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Questions and answers on SB 1070 -- a guide to Arizona's new immigration law

Immigration protest

Along with the usual arguments for and against Arizona’s tough new immigration law, another theme emerged this week during a federal court hearing on the law’s fate: Some parts of the legislation are confusing.

An attorney representing Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer acknowledged as much under pointed questioning by U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton in Phoenix on Thursday.

This sort of thing happens now and then with all kinds of legislation, of course. Fuzzy language, we mean.  Perhaps this partly explains why descriptions of the Arizona law occassionaly miss the mark. For example, SB 1070 is sometimes described as “allowing” police to ask suspected illegal immigrants about their status. Actually, police are already allowed to do that. SB 1070 makes such inquiries a requirement – but only, as the law says, when “practicable.”

Which brings us to a useful Q & A our colleague Nicholas Riccardi prepared on the law. Here’s an excerpt concerning the role of police and SB 1070:

What else must police do under the law?

Anyone arrested in Arizona cannot be released until police check with the federal government to determine whether that person is in the country legally.

Some read this to mean that it doesn't matter if suspects have birth certificates and passports — the federal government must confirm their status before they are freed. Others contend that the requirement only applies to suspected illegal immigrants.

Also, authorities must alert the federal government when any illegal immigrant convicted of a crime of any severity is released from custody or pays a fine to resolve a case.

Are police required to turn convicted illegal immigrants over to the federal government?

No, just to notify federal immigration agents.

Surprising, no? Follow this link to the entire Q & A to learn more about Arizona's immigration law.

Bolton is considering requests to halt the law before it takes effect July 29. It’s not clear when Bolton will rule on the lawsuits by civil rights groups and the Obama administration. Stay tuned.

-- Steve Padilla

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Photo: Opponents of Arizona's immigration law gather outside the federal courthouse in Phoenix on Thursday. Credit: Reuters
 

 
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I am a senior in high school, and I just finished writing an essay in response to a newspaper editorial much like the blog posts here. I have to say that I am appalled at not only the arrogance, but the lack of clear and unbiased thinking on either side of the issue. I'll just come out and say it: I wholeheartedly support SB 1070 for very simple reasons. Most of the anti-SB1070 posts have failed to accurately cite the effects the law will have on foreign individuals residing in Arizona.

One of the arguments is the fact that a Hispanic can be arrested if he is pulled over. Guess what? He can't if he has proper identification!!!! All he has to do is whip out his handy-dandy driver's license, greencard, birth certificate, or what have you, and "Ta-da!" The cop tips his hat, and the man is allowed to go on his merry way. Amazing, the perks of being a law-abiding citizen.....

To all of you who say that it violates your rights if you are asked to provide this information based on your race or ethnicity, I laugh. Every day, no matter what the heck you decide to do, you will ALWAYS be profiled. ALWAYS.

Some examples:

A convenience store clerk doesn't card the fifty-year-old man who just bought a six pack of beer, but asks for identification from the 21-year-old who wants to buy the same thing. Why? Maybe because the kid looks younger than 21! Guess what? He whips out his driver's license and the clerk tips his hat, and the man goes on his merry way. No problems, completely legal.

EVERY SINGLE STINKING TIME someone is pulled over on the highway, what does the officer ask for? That's right: a driver's license and proof of insurance. Why? Because these are the documents necessary for legal operation of the car. If you don't have one or both of these, that cop has the authority to arrest you on some pretty hefty charges.

How about little league? Yup, that's right. I'm going to go there. And not just little league, but sports in general at all ages. Kids and teens alike are profiled for athletic suitability either by their peers or their coach. The 5th and 6th grade football coach is not usually going to let 450-pound, 4-foot-3 Hammy carry the ball, for obvious reasons, no matter how bad he wants to or how much Hammy's parents scream at the coach. The coach can't afford to make a strategically bad call, and it's not fair to the rest of the kids on the team, some of which are far more capable of running the ball.

America has to take the same mindset. Our government can't afford to let illegals have benefits they don't pay for, and it's not fair to the rest of the taxpaying, law-abiding citizens of the US, who work and pay for these rights. Whoever told these misguided illegals that freedom is free needs to be found and bound, because frankly, he is quite wrong.

WOW. can we say racist? all the comments are so mean and just plain horrible. man. if i were them i would leave...i mean who would want to live in a country full of hatred?? not me.

why does the law was made? And you know that the people who are not born here are the most people that succed.

That's right we will NOT comply! This is racism, stopping people becaue they are brown! You have got to be kidding me. People think immigrants steal their jobs but Latinos do most of the dirty work that white people will not do. America would not be the same without us Latinos.
I am a Mexican-American and I go to Arizona I will be stopped by police because I am brown! This is crazy!

You people are unbelievable. The US STOLE its land from Native Americans. AMERICANS are the real immigrants and yet we want to prevent others from coming to our country. Get off your high horse.

Wow is all I can say! I was born in cuba, my father brought me here when I was only 10 yrs old. Needless to say I pretty much feel this is my country, the US is as much part of me as it is to all natural US citizens. I love this country as much as any of you natural born citizens. I have lived here more than I ever lived in the country which I just happened to be born in, never have I been back there or remember it too much. It's been 37 yrs and counting. My roots are here, I went to school here, I grew up here, all my memories are from my life here, my children, grandchildren, my US born irish/german husband of 30 yrs are here. Do I agree with this law?? Yes and NO

I won't get in to the "YES" but I will explain my "NO". I've always had a fear of being mugged, even though it's never happened to me nor do I wish it upon myself, but I am a realist and it could happen to anyone. I hear it on the news all the time. I only carry what I need and can easily be replaced in my purse. Which only includes my drivers license and a credit card. Am I going to have to carry my hard to replace legal status papers in my purse for fear of being harassed because I look hispanic? What if I lose my purse, what if I get mugged? It could take months and money to replace those papers! What do I do in the mean time? Confine myself to my house? Immigration does not work fast and it's not cheap! It's not like replacing a US birth certificate or a driver's license where you can easily get a replacement instantly for a small fee at your local office.

If I go jogging with my dog am I suppose to carry those papers with me? Do all of you US born citizens carry your drivers license and birth certificate with you when you go jogging? Probably NOT! Is fair to me that I would have to? I think not!

What if my friend is over visiting, an emergency arises. I get a call my grandchild was taken to the hospital. I need to get to the hospital quick to authorize further treatment but I am to nervous to drive. I run of with my friend who was visiting me (she's driving), in all this craziness I forget to take my purse with my legal status documents in it, then it happens....we get pulled over. Am I going to be harassed or maybe even arrested and held up til verified, just because of the color of my skin and accent? What about my emergency? My grandchild needed me!!? How many of you natural born US citizens ever had an emergency and ran out without your wallet or purse and without your driver's license? Quite a few I would say! The only difference is that if you get pulled over you will not be harassed, is that fair? Absolutely NOT!

I would say to be ethnically fair to all humans living in the USA legally either by birth or legal aliens maybe a better option and fair solution would be to just put chips on legal aliens, natural born citizens, whites, blacks, yellow, and brown! How does that sound?? (I can just hear the anglers fuming already lol) Sorta feel like that would be a violation of your rights.... to be tagged by a chip? Well how do you think I (we) feel by this sb-1070 law? A violation of my(our) rights! I'm a law abiding human being, I love my country. I work, pay my taxes and I refuse to be harassed because of the color of my skin or spanish accent by cop whose having a bad day or didn't like something I said. Come on we've all come across those cops!!

Very interesting comments, Daisy on your fear of being unfairly profiled. You neglect to mention that Identification is required any time one drives a car, conducts business, collects government services or applies for a job. If the provisions of the Real ID act had actually been enforced (yet another example of selective Federal executive enforcement of laws), this would not be an issue. Why would Eric Holder spend so much effort reversing SB 1070? I am more than willing to carry a tamper proof ID card to prove that I am here legally and to put a stop to the total invasion of third world parasites overwhelming the medical, legal and social infrastructure of the US. In an overpopulated, complex, violent world the luxury of uncontrolled immigration does not exist anymore.

I don't want to get into all the politics of this. I didn't say I disagree with the sb-1070 law. I just don't agree with some of the scenarios that it may raise, such as stereotyping and racial profiling. The harassment, embarrassment, inconvenience, diminish, and insulting it can be. As in my examples the point I was trying to get across is and was, that it should be just and fair to all humans living legally in the USA either by natural birth or not.

Just as you are required to carry a driver's license with you while driving a car whether you are a USA born natural citizen or a legal alien regardless of your skin color or speaking accent. Then to be fair and just and not racial profiled we should all black, white, or brown be provided with an ID of some sort that we will all be required to carry in our pockets (around our necks if we wish) at all times while we are out as proof of our status here, ei: legally by birth or legal alien. Oh and in case we loose it, it should be easily and instanly replaced by simply going to a local office for a nominal fee similar to a driver's license. That to me would make the law fair and just!

Daisy, I would have to admit that I don't entirely disagree with your point in requiring every American (18 and older) to always have a form of identification on their person. Yes, it is an inconvenience and a nuisance, but sometimes sacrifices are necessary for the betterment of a country. I would not object to carrying ID around if I knew it was helping to eliminate leeches.

That being said, I think we need to look back at the big issue, the one SB1070 was created to solve, and that is an excessive amount of illegal immigration from the south side of the Rio Grande. In a totally non-racist perspective, people from Mexico or other southern countries do not look the same as Caucasians. While I'm sure it happens, the illegal immigration rates from countries like Japan, England, Italy, and France are just not high enough to worry about, especially in Arizona. So Arizona's government has passed a law attempting to eradicate the PROBLEM population of illegal immigrants, not the one illegal Swedish family living in the shack on Elm Street.

It's simple strategy; for example, if the military is aware of an enemy platoon in the immediate vicinity, they don't call for a nuclear bomb strike. They may use missiles or light explosives to safely eliminate the majority of the enemy soldiers until they are down to a number that is more manageable for the infantry to wipe out.

If this law is as effective as it looks on paper, the majority of problem illegals will be gone and the rest will be too insignificant to cause much of an issue. Whether it will be enforced to that effective degree, well....we'll see I guess.

 
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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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