Some believe that the entire point of a new Arizona immigration law is to drive Latinos from the state but a controversial sheriff believes that the law will actually cause an increase in population.
Police are now required to ask for residency papers from any person they have a “reasonable suspicion” of not being in the country legally. Critics say the law will almost certainly lead to civil rights violations.
Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio told NBC’s Matt Lauer that his officers are trained in questioning suspects without racial profiling. “60 days into the Obama administration, [Obama] sent his Justice Department down to the Phoenix area to investigate me for alleged racial profiling. It’s been a year and a half and nothing has happened. So, we know how to enforce the illegal immigration laws without racial profiling,” Arpaio said Monday.
Jennifer Allen, Director of the Border Action Network, believes the law is designed to make people leave the state and the country. “Tire people. Hit them left, hit them right, from in the front and from the back until people are literally exhausted, and run out of the state and run out of the country,” she said.
The law is “an affront to the basic rights and dignities every person has in the State of Arizona, in the United States and around the world,” said Allen.
Reverend Al Sharpton sees the law as an obvious attack on Latinos. “This law is anti-American, it’s anti-Latino, it’s anti-immigrant, it is unconstitutional,” Sharpton told WABC. The civil rights advocate plans a “freedom walkers” march to protest the law.
Isabel Garcia, an attorney in Arizona, told ABC News that the bill was causing people to want to move away from the state. “We have not seen this kind of legislation since the Jim Crow laws,” according to Garcia.
Arpaio doesn’t deny that the law will prompt Latinos to leave the state but believes the net effect will be an increase in population. “I think more people will move here since when we raid private businesses and arrest illegal aliens working there with the majority with phony identification, we’re making more job openings by getting rid of those that are here illegally and maybe people here that are here that are legal will be able to find a job,” he argued.
Even if Arpaio is right, Arizona may never have the chance to see its population surge. Many experts agree that the law will eventually be stayed in court. “As an expression of constitutionally permissible law, it is thoroughly flawed,” according to Andrew Cohen, former chief legal analyst for CBS News.
“[I]n a few weeks, or maybe even a few days, the effect of the state law is likely to be stayed by the federal courts,” writes Cohen.
This video is from NBC’s Today Show, broadcast April 26, 2010.