Arizona may be the first state to criminalize illegal immigrants. With an estimated 460,000 illegal immigrants living in the state the prospect of criminalizing all of them is in one word "incredible." Over the years the state lawmakers have attempted similar laws but now with a new republican governor, this may happen. The bill works by using the state's trespassing law and by requiring police to try to determine the immigration status of a person when there's reasonable suspicion they are in the country illegally. The sponsor of the bill Republican Sen. Russell Pearce of Mesa explained that "The greatest threat to our neighborhoods is the illegal alien invasion," He further stated that some illegal immigrants who are criminals bring violence and other crimes to the United States. Supporters argue that the bill is necessary because of the lax enforcement of immigration was by the federal government. Opponents say that the law appears to violate constitutional rights and woud lead to racial profiling.
Many of the state's local police have long resisted the concept of conducting day-to-day immigration enforcement. They believe that this new repressibility would overburden their staff and create distrust among immigrants, who would fear the police and not assist in any ongoing investigation.
"We are not anti-immigration enforcement," said Kingman Police Chief Robert DeVries, who is against the bill. "We are just concerned about some of the responsibilities that are being pushed on us and how it affects our ability to provide day-to-day services in our communities."
According to Jennifer Allen, director of the Border Action Network, an immigrant rights group based in southern Arizona "Bills like this that cast a net so wide are guaranteed to trap U.S. citizens,"
First-offense trespassing by an illegal immigrant would be a top-tier misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail. Subsequent violations would be mid-tier felonies that would carry a penalty of one-and-a-half to three years in prison.
The proposal would ban what anti-immigration groups call sanctuary polices — local rules that discourage or restrict officers from questioning immigrants.
* in part from the Associated Press