2010, April 24
Gov. Jan Brewer ignored fear mongering from President Obama and Mexico on Friday and signed into law a bill that will give local police the authority to enforce federal immigration law in Arizona, the nation's busiest gateway for human and drug smuggling from Mexico.
Brewer attacked critics of the bill, who she said were "overreacting.” "We in Arizona have been more than patient waiting for Washington to act," Brewer said after signing the law. "But decades of inaction and misguided policy have created a dangerous and unacceptable situation." Brewer said the law represents another tool for the state to "work to solve a crisis we did not create and the federal government has refused to fix - the crisis caused by illegal immigration and Arizona's porous border. This bill strengthens the laws of our state, protects all of us, every Arizona citizen," she said. "It does so while ensuring that the constitutional rights of all remain solid, stable."
The legislation, sent to the Republican governor by the Republican-led Legislature, makes it a state crime to be in the country illegally and requires local police to enforce federal immigration laws. It will require anyone whom police suspect of being in the country illegally to produce "an alien registration document," such as a green card or other proof of citizenship, such as a passport or Arizona driver's license. It also makes it illegal to impede the flow of traffic by picking up day laborers for work. A day laborer who gets picked up for work, and traffic is impeded in the process, would also be committing a criminal act.
Obama stated: “Indeed, our failure to act responsibly at the federal level will only open the door to irresponsibility by others. And that includes, for example, the recent efforts in Arizona.” So it’s irresponsible for Arizona to enforce federal immigration laws that the federal government is refusing to enforce. It would seem the federal government is irresponsible, NOT Arizona. Some critics say the law unfairly targets Hispanics and could lead to racial profiling. This is a strange charge. Should police be on the lookout for 12 million illegal Canadians in the US? Twelve million illegal Japanese? Twelve million illegal Eskimos? No, we have 12 million illegal Hispanics in the US so it is logical to suspect a Hispanic in a state flooded with illegal Hispanics. Arizona has an estimated 460,000 illegal immigrants and is the state with the most illegal border crossings.
The bill's Republican sponsor, state Sen. Russell Pearce of Mesa, said Obama and other critics of the bill were "against law enforcement, our citizens and the rule of law." Pearce said the legislation would remove "political handcuffs" from police and help drive illegal immigrants from the state.
"Illegal is illegal," said Pearce, a driving force on the issue in Arizona. "We'll have less crime. We'll have lower taxes. We'll have safer neighborhoods. We'll have shorter lines in the emergency rooms. We'll have smaller classrooms."
Brewer's predecessor, Janet Napolitano, a Democrat who is now President Barack Obama's Homeland Security secretary, vetoed proposals similar to the bill just signed into law. Others opposing the bill include Catholic bishops, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, a Democrat, and Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard, the Democratic Party's presumptive nominee for governor. On Thursday, Mexico's Senate unanimously passed a resolution urging Brewer to veto the law.
The March 27, 2010 shooting death of rancher Bob Krentz on his property in southeastern Arizona brought illegal immigration and border security into greater focus in the state. Authorities believe Krentz was killed by an illegal border crosser but his murder has never been solved.
Manuel Longoria of Nuestros Reconquistos says he feels bad for Krentz’s murder (as well as the murder of his dog), but believes that part of the frustration is that Krentz was working on Aztlán, the area of the United States stolen from Mexico. “Murder is never the way to solve things. However, Americans put themselves at risk for occupying stolen land. It would be a lot safer if they didn’t.”