The whole Arizona immigration law debate has been wild. It has inspired mass protests, mass support, new NBA playoff jerseys, and lots of internet flamewars.
I haven’t said anything about the law for one simple reason – I hadn’t yet read the law. I finally read it in its entirety. You can find it here. The website I linked to is a great place to read it, because the site explains what was already law, what was deleted, and what was added after the initial bill was passed.
After reading, I have to say, I was surprised. It’s not bad. There’s no Big Brother anti-Mexican anti-immigrant anything in it at all. Contrary to what supporters are saying, it’s not fascist or turning Arizona into Nazi Germany. It doesn’t give police the power to stop anyone and ask to “see their papers”. What it does do is give police (1) who have made lawful stops, detentions or arrests (2) in the enforcement of an existing law (3) that have reasonable suspicion that a person is (4) an alien and (5) illegal the obligation to make a reasonable effort to figure out if the person is an alien (6) IF making that determination doesn’t hinder an investigation. If a person meets all six of the criteria the law lists and is asked to prove citizenship, they can prove citizenship by having their Arizona drivers license.
So, as you can see, in real life it shouldn’t play out like a racist cop walking up to a brown person and saying, “Show me your papers!”
What if someone is an alien over 18? Well, then, they have to carry their papers with them all the time. That might sound harsh or weird, but that’s actually not new. Aliens over 18 always have to carry papers on their person. It’s an existing federal law, USC 8 1304(e). That law, according to the US Department of Justice, is fine.
Now that I have actually read the law and done some research, I see no problem with the law at all. Read it for yourself and see what you think.