In addition to the “Birther Bill” making its way through the Arizona legislative process, the state has been in the news recently for an immigration law that requires police to stop and ask for documentation from anyone they have “reasonable suspicion” to believe is an illegal immigrant. Previously, the law prohibited officers from asking for documentation unless the person were also suspected of another legal infraction.
Opposition to the law has been fierce across the country, but now criticism is coming from the highest ranking officials in the country, including President Obama.
While visiting Iowa, Obama recently said to the crowd, “Now, suddenly, if you don’t have your papers, and you took your kid out to get ice cream, you’re going to get harassed — that’s something that could potentially happen . . . That’s not the right way to go.”
Attorney General Eric Holder has stated that “the possibility of a court challenge” is on the table.
On the other hand, politicians on both sides of the aisle from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (Republican) to U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva (Democrat of Arizona) have criticized the bill, which essentially requires migrant workers (and anyone who looks Hispanic) to carry identification with them at all times.
The basis of the criticism lies in our Fourth Amendment: “[t]he right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.” Critics say that by encouraging police questioning of anyone they reasonably suspect to be illegally in the country exposes Hispanics to racial profiling.
What do you think of this law? Is it an effective way to control illegal immigration or a state sanction of racial profiling? Or is it something in between?