Much of the debate around Arizona’s new immigration law is focused on the moment when a law-enforcement officer can or should ask about a person’s legal status, says the Arizona Republic. The law sayst an officer engaged in a “lawful stop, detention or arrest” must, when “practicable,” ask about a person’s legal status when “reasonable suspicion exists” that the person is in the U.S. illegally.
The newspaper asked legislators, police, and legal experts to address key issues that have raised controversy and then consider several scenarios to see how those concepts might play out. Three of the five panelists said suspicion that a person might not be here legally is not reason to stop the person. “What does an illegal alien look like? What does a person look like that has two rocks of crack cocaine in their pocket?” asked Mark Spencer, president of the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association. “No one can tell by looking. There first needs to be conduct that is connected with suspicious or criminal activity.”