Arizona Police Prep for Immigration Crackdown
The Obama administration finally filed its long-anticipated lawsuit against Arizona’s harsh immigration law on Tuesday. But the suit won’t stop the law from going into effect as scheduled on July 29, and Arizona officials are already preparing for the crackdown. Last week, the state released the guidelines—including a 90-minute DVD—that will be used to train 15,000 law enforcement officers to enforce the law.
The video repeatedly emphasizes that racial profiling is against the law and should not be used to determine whether someone is an illegal immigrant. But the state also says that police officers can use dress, the ability to speak English, and presence in a place where “unlawfully present aliens are known to congregate looking for work” as acceptable grounds for reasonable suspicion. (Under the law, police must have another grounds for stopping someone first—e.g., if they suspect the person has violated a state or local ordinance—before they can inquire about immigration status.)
Pro-immigration activists, however, contest that such guidelines still effectively legitimize racial profiling. "I don't believe the police will approach white people and ask them for their papers because of the way they're dressed,” one Latino activist told Gannett News Service. And even state officials admit in the DVD that they’re not sure how all the parts of the law are supposed to be enforced. “[T]he law allows any legal resident of Arizona to sue if a local agency has a ‘policy’ against enforcing federal immigration laws, but the video warns that no one knows what that means,” writes the Los Angeles Times. “The provision puts police in an awkward situation, [a state official] says in the video, because they will be accused of racial profiling for enforcing the law and risk a lawsuit if they don't.”