Arizona Governor Jan Brewer Signs Strict Immigration Law
April 24, 2010 By Alison Bowen
NEW YORK — Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed what’s been called the nation’s toughest immigration bill on Friday afternoon, making it a crime to not carry proper documentation.
The bill gives police officers more latitude to stop people on the suspicion that they are undocumented immigrants, which critics said could lead to racial profiling.
In a statement on her Web site, Brewer said the bill is a state tool during a “crisis we did not create,” which she said was “caused by illegal immigration and Arizona’s porous border.”
She added that she had “listened patiently to both sides” and concluded that the state needed to be protected from Mexico’s drug war violence, which is dribbling over the border.
“We cannot delay while the destruction happening south of our international border creeps its way north,” she said.
The bill, called the Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act, also makes it illegal to hire or transport day laborers, and it allows for lawsuits against government agencies not enforcing immigration laws.
In recent months, the bill became a nationwide controversy, stirring dispute between supporters of tough immigration legislation and immigrant advocates who said the law unjustly targeted immigrants and legal residents, such as family members who might be driving around an undocumented relative.
Earlier on Friday, President Barack Obama criticized the bill, The New York Times reported, saying it could “undermine basic notions of fairness that we cherish as Americans, as well as the trust between police and our communities that is so crucial to keeping us safe.”
In March, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano criticized the legislation, invoking her previous vetoes as governor of the state on similar legislation.
“I thought I was right when I vetoed it the first time, I thought I was right the second time, I thought I was right the third time,” Janet Napolitano told Arizona State University students, according to the Arizona Daily Sun.
On Thursday, the National Immigration Law Center’s general counsel Linton Joaquin urged the governor toward a veto.
“Were this new bill to be enacted, Arizonans of all backgrounds would suffer a major blow to their civil rights,” Joaquin said in a press release. “This means that a mother taking her children to school, members of a family walking to church, or a man making a quick trip to the convenience store could be arrested for not carrying their birth certificates.”
In her statement, Brewer said she would not tolerate racial profiling or discrimination in the state and inserted language prohibiting officers from “solely considering race, color, or national origins.”
Image: jonathan mcintosh @ Flickr.