The most controversial part of Arizona’s SB1070 Immigration Law took effect on Tuesday, September 18, 2012 when U.S. District Court Judge Susan Bolton signed the order. It dissolved the injunction she issued over two years ago blocking Arizona from enforcing key provisions of SB1070. Tuesday’s action was prompted by the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June that said she was legally incorrect in enjoining the section which requires police to question those they have stopped if there is a reason to believe they are in the country illegally. It also said there was no evidence that the Arizona law conflicted with federal law.
SB1070 requires that the law must be enforced consistent with existing anti-discrimination laws, but it does allow someone’s race to be considered as a factor, though not the only one, in determining who to question. Arizona law enforcement officers have had this ability as an option prior to SB1070, but what SB1070 does is makes it mandatory for police to ask for “papers” if they suspect the person they have stopped for another reason could be in the country illegally. Currently police can choose to not to raise the question and release those stopped after rectifying the reason for the original stop. Under SB1070, police are required by law to raise the issue. That is a significant change of law. Arizona is now the first state with a “papers please” law.
President Obama’s recent action potentially gives “papers” to a new class of up to 1.4 million of the 12 million illegal immigrants in the United States who were brought here illegally as children, who can apply for “deferred action” status to be allowed to remain in the U.S. This is largely dependent on Obama’s reelection. If upheld, they will be not be affected by this new Arizona law, however the remaining 10+ million illegal immigrants who venture onto Arizona roadways and are stopped for a violation will.
A big question remaining … what will be the response of the federal government when Arizona police begin increasing the number of illegal immigrants referred to them? Will the federal government “turn its head” a bit farther and simply ignore a greater number of illegal immigrants? Will the federal government increase deportation or build new prisons to house them? Will the U.S. Legislature pass stricter immigration laws and place more emphasis on securing the border … or will it continue its current course of basically “turning its head” on the whole matter … leaving the states to fend for themselves, paying the heavy costs of illegal immigration as has been apparent in recent years.
Other states are expected to adopt similar legislation in the coming months and years as the ramifications of this new Arizona immigration law plays out on the roadways of Arizona, in the courts and in the United States Legislature.