At least one Arizona sheriff disagrees with a new immigration law that critics say could lead to civil rights violations. Sheriff Clarence Dupnik is promising not to enforce a law believes is “racist and stupid.”
The law directs enforcement to use a “reasonable suspicion” standard to decide which persons need to be stopped. People without documentation proving they are legal residents can be imprisoned for up to six months. Governor Jan Brewer signed the legislation into law Friday.
Dupnik is becoming one of the most vocal opponents of the law. The Pima County Sheriff told KGUN that the legislation was “disgusting” and “unnecessary.”
“I think the law, as I have said is unwise. It’s stupid and racist,” said Dupnik.
Prior to the new legislation, law enforcement had “the authority to stop and detain people who they believe are illegal immigrants and turn them over to the border patrol,” Dupnik said on MSNBC Wednesday. “We have been doing that for — I’ve been a police officer here for 52 years. 30 years as sheriff. And we’ve been doing that for as long as I’ve been a cop here.”
Dupnik sees three major problems with the law. “I believe it’s unconstitutional. I don’t think, as you pointed out earlier in this show, that the states have the authority to preempt federal government when it comes to immigration issues,” he told MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann.
Secondly, Dupnik believes there is a problem with the “reasonable suspicion” provision of the law. “I’m not sure what reasonable suspicion means, and I suspect that’s going to be constitutionally vague,” he said.
“The third thing is, why would I take the hundreds of people that we arrest regularly and put them in the local jail and subject them to the local criminal justice system and then send the local taxpayers a huge bill for doing this when all we have to do is what we’ve been doing all along and turn them over to the border patrol?” asked Dupnik.
Dupnik suspects that the law was enacted in Arizona to deflect attention from some of the poor management of financial issues by the state legislature. “They’ve done a horrible job, and second of all, I think it’s just racist,” he said.
The law allows any citizen to sue law enforcement who doesn’t comply with the law but Dupnik doesn’t think that will be a problem for his department. “My guess is when the courts take a look at this that they’re going to issue an injunction from its enforcement and eventually it’s going to be declared unconstitutional,” he said.
This video is from MSNBC’s Countdown, broadcast April 28, 2010.