Arizona Legalizes Racial Profiling With SB 1070, Says Advocates

By Julianne Hing Apr 23, 2010

Gov. Jan Brewer signed SB 1070 into law in Phoenix, Arizona moments ago. The state law, which immigration restrictionists boast is the toughest immigration bill in the country, criminalizes the presence of people who are undocumented in the state. SB1070 empowers police officers to detain and arrest anyone they have "reasonable suspicion" to believe is in the country without papers. Those who are detained and cannot provide proof of legal residence or citizenship could be charged with a misdemeanor. The bill also makes transporting and employing undocumented immigrants a crime. "People across the country are watching Arizona, waiting for any misstep," said Brewer, noting the national attention SB1070 had garnered. "We must prove the alarmists and cynics wrong." Brewer said that racial profiling will not be tolerated, and said she was pushed to sign the bill because federal government had "fallen down" on its responsibility to deal with immigration issues. "’Reasonable suspicion’ in Arizona isn’t going to be someone who looks like a Canadian, whatever a Canadian looks like, it’s going to be someone who looks like my family" Alfredo Gutierrez, a former state senator and activist, told Arizona radio station KTAR 92.3. "This is the first step toward apartheid." When pressed about the criteria police officers will use to determine whether or not there is "reasonable suspicion" to detain a person, Brewer said: "I do not know what an illegal immigrant looks like…police officers will be respectful. They know what their jobs are. They have taken an oath, and racial profiling is illegal." From inside the room where Brewer’s media-only press conference was held, the raucous, chanting voices of protesters outside denouncing Brewer’s act could be heard.