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What’s in Arizona’s New Immigration Law?

Almost everyone has heard about Arizona’s new illegal immigration law. But amidst all the rumors, opinions, fears, opposition, and support of Senate Bill 1070, it can be hard to understand what the bill actually says and what it will mean to residents, visitors, and employers in Arizona, and even the rest of the country. As things in the U.S. change and new issues arise, laws and policies also change, also shifting the criminal justice industry.

The Arizona immigration bill, signed on April 23, 2010 by Governor Jan Brewer, aims to decrease the number of illegal immigrants in the United States. As stated in SB 1070: “The provisions of this act are intended to work together to discourage and deter the unlawful entry and presence of aliens and economic activity by persons unlawfully present in the United States.”

In essence, the bill does not make it against the law to be an illegal alien in the U.S., it merely _enforces and supports laws already in place that prevent illegal immigration_. Proponents of the bill argue that federal laws do not do enough to meet the illegal immigration problems facing the U.S. However, some fear the bill will lead to racial profiling and question how it will be fairly enforced.

President Obama stated the bill has the potential “to 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.” Some believe the law could do more harm than good and some even deem the law unconstitutional.

However, Governor Brewer defended her state’s action and assured people that racial profiling would not be accepted, stating “We have to trust our law enforcement.” She also defended the constitutionalism of the bill: “Arizona’s immigration enforcement laws are both reasonable and constitutional.”

So what does the bill actually do? In essence, it allows law enforcement officials to “determine the immigration status of the person” during any kind of detention, stop, or arrest if there is “reasonable suspicion” that the person is an illegal alien. It also states that “Any person who is arrested shall have the person’s immigration status determined before the person is released.”

To prevent racism and bias actions, the bill clearly states that officers can not use only “race, color or national origin” when deciding to seek immigration status. In order to prove that a person is not an illegal alien, they must provide a valid Arizona driver license, a valid Arizona nonoperating identification license, a valid tribal enrollment card or other form of tribal identification, or another proof of legal presence as outlined in the law.

Among other things, the law also makes it illegal to:

– Willfully fail to complete or carry an alien registration document

– Smuggle illegal immigrants into the country for monetary gain or commercial purposes

– Transport, move, harbor, conceal, or shield unlawful aliens

– Knowingly employ an illegal alien

Senate Bill 1070 also states that if an illegal immigrant breaks a law, the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement or the United States and Customs Border Protection will be notified and that law enforcement officials can transport an individual to a federal facility if they are found to be an illegal alien.

Criminal justice is an interesting field that continues to change on a regular basis as new laws are passed and as the issues facing America change. Careers in criminal justice are an excellent way to help protect people, communities, and even countries. People in this field have honorable jobs that allow them to use their skills to complete often heroic tasks.

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