Pending AZ Immigration Law: Would It Boost Racial Profiling?

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With Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer poised to decide by the end of tomorrow whether to sign the nation’s toughest state immigration law, public-safety and legal experts from across the nation already are debating its ramifications, reports the Arizona Republic. Supporters say it would give police officers more freedom to do their jobs and would require little additional training. They say the bill has just enough teeth to keep departments from continuing to ignore immigration laws; on the flip side, it expressly forbids officers from racial profiling. President Obama criticized the bill today.

Opponents say it would require departments to make immigration enforcement a priority over violent crimes, drain already strained financial and manpower resources, force officers to target individuals based on their accent or dress, and result in costly lawsuits against municipalities for participating in racial profiling as well as failing to adequately enforce the law. The bill requires local law-enforcement agencies to enforce federal immigration law to the fullest extent permitted by federal law. It says officers must make a reasonable attempt to determine an individual’s legal status “when practicable” if there is “reasonable suspicion” that he or she is in the U.S. illegally.

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