LOS ANGELES — Immigrant rights groups Wednesday slammed Arizona lawmakers after they approved a bill which will allow police officers to determine whether suspects are in the United States legally.


Arizona's House of Representatives passed the bill by a margin of 35 votes to 21 during a session on Tuesday, the legislature's website showed, mirroring a similar measure passed by the border state's Senate earlier this year.

The bill will now proceed to Arizona's Republican Governor Jan Brewer to be signed into law.

The bill makes it a misdemeanor offense for an individual to lack proper immigration paperwork and also allows police officers to determine someone's immigration status if they believe he or she could be an illegal immigrant.

Currently police can only ask about an individual's immigration status if they are suspected of involvement in another crime.

However critics say the bill will transform Arizona into a "police state" and even sections of law enforcement have voiced fears it could harm relations between police and the immigrant community.

Chris Newman, Legal Director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, which campaigns on behalf of day laborers in the United States, called on Governor Brewer to veto the bill, which he described as "odious" and "unwise."

"Arizona is on the verge of enacting the most anti-immigrant legislation the country has seen in a generation," Newman said in a statement.

"We are hopeful Governor Brewer will consult with her legal counsel, issue a veto, and spare Arizona the expense of defending an unconstitutional, unwise, and odious bill in federal courts.

"Arizona has long been a laboratory for anti-immigrant experimentation, and its demagogue leaders have become folk heros for white supremacists throughout the United States, but this bill ushers in a new chapter of disgrace for the state that resisted celebrating the life of Martin Luther King."