How SB 1070 Could Have Gotten Rep. Giffords’ Hero in Trouble

Under the original provisions of SB 1070, Daniel Hernandez could have had to prove his immigration status.

By Jamilah King Jan 11, 2011

It’s no secret that we’re a little smitten with Daniel Hernandez, the brave intern who helped save Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ life in the aftermath of last weekend’s horrific shooting spree. But Elise Foley points out at the Huffington Post that the very act for which Hernandez is being called a hero could have gotten the 20-year-old college student in trouble with immigration authorities under the original provisions of SB 1070.

Hernandez may have saved the congresswoman’s life. But under Arizona’s controversial anti-immigration law, SB 1070, those with Hispanic names — like the Mexican-American Hernandez, who is a naturalized citizen — could be asked for papers at a police officer’s discretion. Any legitimate reason for police contact with an individual they suspect of being in the country illegally could prompt a request for identification, and witnessing a shooting would be one such reason.

"If you are a witness for a crime, the officer would have a lawful reason to approach you, and if they had any reason to suspect you might be an alien, they could ask," Aarti Kohli, director of immigration policy at Berkeley Law School’s Warren Institute, told HuffPost. "The big question is what is reasonable suspicion."

The effect on the Latino community’s willingness to interact with police was a primary argument against SB 1070.

Julianne Hing reported a while back that the provisions on immigration status checks have been blocked by a federal judge. But the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has yet to rule on the matter, and it’s widely expected that the Supreme Court will have the final say.