Controversy over the government's new immigration enforcement policies.
Local police in Arizona may soon have the ability to arrest illegal immigrants on trespassing charges for simply being in the state.
The new provision, called a first in the nation by both opponents and proponents, was given preliminary approval by Arizona legislature the New York Times reported Tuesday.
“American citizens have a constitutional right to expect their rights and laws to be enforced,” Republican State Sen. Russel Pearce
, chief sponsor of the legislation, told the paper.
Civil libertarians said the law would open the door to racial profiling, and the local office of the American Civil Liberties Union
said the bill was unconstitutional, according to the report.
While the House bill must be reconciled with a version passed by the Senate, the Times reported that action could be taken within the next week or two.
Both bills include measures to outlaw the hiring of day laborers off the street; prohibit the transportation of illegal immigrants anywhere in Arizona; and compel local police to check the status of people they suspect are in the country illegally, with reason, the Times reported.
The bill has received criticism from several police chiefs and sheriffs. According to the Times, the bill was called burdensome, impractical, and a tactic that will scare immigrants out of cooperating with investigations and reporting crime.
Published at 9:01 AM PDT on Mar 24, 2010