Law & Order: CI (Constitutional Implications)

Law & Order: CI (Constitutional Implications)

Last week, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed into law the nation’s toughest immigration legislation.  The controversial law, which requires police to determine whether or not a person is in the U.S. legally, also requires immigrants to carry their documentation with them at all times, and requires police to interrogate people if there is reason to question their legality of their immigration status.


This law is controversial for several reasons.  Supporters of the bill cite criminal activity connected with illegal immigration, point out that Arizona and Mexico share a border, cite the federal government’s failure to enforce its immigration laws, and claim it will not lead to racial profiling.  Opponents argue that it surely will, questioning what constitutes “reasonable suspicion” in such cases, outside of skin color.  They also question the law’s constitutionality, and the ability of police to enforce the legislation without violating the rights of legal immigrants and U.S. citizens of Hispanic descent residing in Arizona.


Gov. Brewer says she is equally committed to battling crime associated with illegal immigration, as she is to holding law enforcement accountable, to ensure that people’s civil rights are not violated.  Kearny Police Chief Joe Martinez called concerns unfounded, saying that racial profiling is not practiced in Arizona, that “it’s been outlawed”.  Arizona Sen. Russell Pearce also dismissed concerns, stating “Illegal is not a race; it’s a crime.”


President Obama called the bill “misguided”, and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson said “It’s against the democratic ideals of this country.”  Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon has vowed to challenge the bill through the state courts, taking it to the Supreme Court, if need be.  The Rev. Al Sharpton has said once the bill goes into effect, he would organize “freedom walkers” to take to the streets of Arizona, refusing to give identification and forcing arrest, similar to the freedom riders who fought segregation in the 1960’s.  Organizations such as The National Coalition of Latino Clergy and Christian Leaders, the Hispanic Federation, and the National Action Network will also legally contest the law.


How do you feel about this law?  Unconstitutional?  Needed?  Or both…a necessary evil?


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