Monday, May 17, 2010

Q&A on Arizona immigration law

Confused by the right-wing's talking points or frustrated by the thin reporting of the national and local menda? Here's a suggestion, take a look at the ACLU's Q &A on the new Arizona immigration law. Here's one.

What is the difference between this law and the federal law?

The Arizona law goes well beyond federal law because it mandates that all local police and sheriffs demand papers from people they stop and believe may be in the country without authorization. Nowhere is such requirement in federal law. This law reverses the presumption of innocence, forcing police officers on the street to demand that people prove they are U.S. citizens or otherwise in the country legally. The racial profiling this law invites with its undefined standard for what constitutes “reasonable suspicion” that someone is in the country unlawfully would violate the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection under the law and federal civil rights protections.

There are a number of ways in which the Arizona law directly conflicts with federal law regarding the regulation and enforcement of immigration. As a threshold matter, SB 1070 presumes that the citizenship or immigration status of individuals can be determined simply, outside the complex administrative procedures set up under our nation’s immigration laws. It cannot. Moreover, the Arizona law would also impose different state penalties against people for conduct, such as authorization to work in the United States that is directly regulated under federal law. Not only is this unconstitutional under the supremacy cause, but it is also bad policy as the United States cannot have a patchwork of conflicting immigration laws depending on what state you happen to find yourself in.

Read the rest on-line or down as a PDF

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