Update: Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer has signed the legislation into law, The Associated Press reports.
Raw Story’s original article unfolds below.
As Democrats prepare to bring immigration reform front and center, President Barack Obama fired some preliminary shots against Republicans for their new controversial bill approved by the Arizona Congress.
Calling for national immigration reform at a Rose Garden ceremony Friday, Obama assailed “the recent efforts in Arizona,” claiming they “threaten to undermine basic notions of fairness that we cherish as Americans, as well as the trust between police and their communities that is so crucial to keeping us safe.”
He also said he has instructed the Justice Department to probe the “misguided” measure’s provisions and determine whether they’re legal.
The president’s tough new posture on immigration reflects the Democrats’ desire to move on the issue ahead of the 2010 midterms, having elevated it as a higher priority than energy legislation.
Under pressure to enact the bill, Arizona’s Republican governor Jan Brewer, must decide by Saturday whether to pen her signature, veto it, or let it become law without signing it.
The Associated Press reported:
Civil rights activists have said the bill would lead to racial profiling and deter Hispanics from reporting crimes. Hundreds of Hispanics protested the legislation at the State Capitol complex on Thursday.
The bill’s sponsor, Republican Sen. Russell Pearce of Mesa, said it 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.”
The bill makes it a misdemeanor offense for an individual to lack proper immigration paperwork and also allows police officers to determine someone’s 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.
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.