Arizona’s police agencies are challenged to enforce SB 1070 without discrimination

The Supreme Court’s decision to upheld section 2 of the SB 1070 law will complicate the job of Arizona’s local police departments, requiring them to check people’s immigration status as part of their regular traffic stops and other activities.

Minutes after the Supreme Court decision was known, the Department of Justice issued a warning against any Arizona’s law enforcement agencies that engage in racial profiling practices. “We will closely monitor the impact of S.B. 1070 to ensure compliance with federal immigration law and with applicable civil rights laws, including ensuring that law enforcement agencies and others do not implement the law in a manner that has the purpose or effect of discriminating against the Latino or any other community,” said Attorney General Eric Holder in an official statement.

“We’re going to get sued if we do. We’re going to get sued if we don’t. That’s a terrible position to put law enforcement officers in,” said Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik to Latino Fox News. Sheriff Dupnik has long argued against his state’s requirement that local law enforcement be forced to ask about the legal status of anyone suspected of being in the U.S. illegally.

Tucson Police Chief Roberto Villaseñor estimates the statute will result in 50,000 additional calls a year to federal immigration authorities in his city alone. That includes 36,000 arrests a year for suspects who would normally be released with a citation, must be booked into custody if immigration authorities “don’t answer the phone, they never call us back after we talk to them or whatever,”  Villaseñor said to the Christian Science Monitor.

“The Phoenix Police Department will not tolerate a violation of any persons’ civil rights,” chief of police Daniel Garcia said in a written statement.

Arizona’s business leaders expressed their confidence that police agencies across the state will enforce section 2 of SB 1070 “fairly, professionally and always within the spirit and letter of the law.” However, they urged “Congress and the President to come together on a meaningful immigration plan that secures our borders and meets our nation’s labor needs through a visa program that supports a range of workforce needs from seasonal to highly skilled workers and entrepreneurs.”

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About tanialara

Tania Lara has a vast experience working as a journalist in Mexico and the U.S. reporting in-depth about the economic contributions and realities of Mexican immigrants. This summer, she will be covering border issues and elections for the 21st Century Border Initiative blog. Her stories about complex cross border matters have been published in Spanish-language media outlets including CNN México, Expansión, and ¡Ahora Sí!, as well as the English-language newspaper The Austin American-Statesman.
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