Arizona ended six years of conflict over a controversial state immigration law when it settled a dispute with immigrant rights groups last week, the Christian Science Monitor reports. Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich issued an opinion laying out guidelines for how to enforce the measure, known as SB 1070. The state will limit police officers’ powers to determine individuals’ immigration status, or detain them, over suspicions that they might be in the U.S. illegally. Under SB 1070, local police officers were required to check an individual’s immigration status if there was a “reasonable suspicion” that the individual might be in the country illegally, even if the individual was being stopped for crimes unrelated to immigration status.
The law was inspired by some Arizonans’ fears that illegal immigration was spurring drug cartel growth and taking jobs away from American citizens, concerns that have been echoed across the nation and emphasized during this year’s presidential election campaign. Brnovich’s opinion specifies that officers could not “prolong a stop, detention or arrest solely for the purpose of verifying immigration status,” and that they should not take race or nationality into account, unless as part of a suspect description. Police officers may still ask for papers, but are not required to, Brnovich said. For many, SB 1070 was simply a common sense measure, although critics say that the law was an explicit and unlawful attempt by the state to take a federal power (immigration control) into its own hands, and would lead to racial profiling.