Arizona SB1070 (2010) is a law that just passed in the American state of Arizona: it allows the police to ask anyone to show proper identification to prove they belong in the country. Failing to do so can lead to a $500 fine and up to six months in prison. It also makes it a crime to transport those without proper identification.
Some say the law is racist. Although the governor says the police will be trained to suspect the right people without going by race, language or wealth, it is unclear how they would do that.
Arizona is 29% Latino and 5% Native American. Many of them look like they came from Mexico. Some have, while others have families which have been in Arizona hundreds if not thousands of years, long before whites (Arizona used to be part of Mexico). Most are honest citizens and yet the law is bound to affect them way more than whites.
- Who is for it: over 60% of voters (in both Arizona and in America as a whole), Republicans, most white people, rank-and-file policemen, John McCain
- Who is against it: Democrats, Latinos, Native Americans, police chiefs, the presidents of both Mexico and America, the ACLU
Some Republicans are now calling for laws like it in other states.
Arizona is just north of Mexico and just east of California. It used to be a bad place to cross from Mexico into America because of the desert, but because California and Texas have made it much harder to cross into their states, Arizona now has become the easiest place to cross.
One Republican said that Arizona is “under siege” – yet illegal crossings are down: because of bad times there is less work in Arizona to draw people in.
Crime is down too. The law, on the other hand, could make crime worse: the police will spend less time fighting violent crime while many people will be too afraid to talk to the police.
The governor signed the law on April 23rd 2010. It will go into effect by August. Nearly all the Republicans in the Arizona Senate voted for it and nearly all the Democrats voted against it. Republicans have been trying for years to get this law passed but each time the governor, Janet Napolitano, a Democrat, blocked it. With President Obama bringing her to Washington to make her the head of Homeland Security, Arizona now has a Republican governor – and so it has passed at last.
The American Civil Liberties Union and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund are both hoping to challenge it in court.
It is unclear whether the Supreme Court will overturn it. On the one hand, the Supreme Court has overturned state immigration laws in the past – immigration is mostly a federal matter. On the other hand, the Court is heavily Republican and the law has been carefully written with a Supreme Court challenge in mind.