In an effort to un-muddle the debate around SB 1070, Dan Nowicki's article in this Sunday's Arizona Republic further muddles it when he quotes the law's author, nativist attorney Kris Kobach, in a section titled "papers, please."
Now, if this was all the law did, Kobach might have a point. But of course the law is far broader than that, and it forces local cops to enforce federal immigration law, contrary to the plenary power the federal government has over immigration via the U.S. Constitution.
"Arizona's law, which makes it a state crime for immigrants to be without certain documents, mirrors a federal requirement that has been around since the Alien Registration Act of 1940, said Kris Kobach, a law professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law who helped write the Arizona law.
"Moreover, Arizona's law does not require U.S. citizens to carry an Arizona driver's license or any other papers, he said."
This last line is particularly deceptive. If during any police investigation, a cop has "reasonable suspicion" to think you're in the country illegally, he or she can presume you're an undocumented alien unless you provide one of several forms of ID.
Indeed, SB 1070 plainly states:
A PERSON IS PRESUMED TO NOT BE AN ALIEN WHO IS UNLAWFULLY PRESENT IN THE UNITED STATES IF THE PERSON PROVIDES TO THE LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER OR AGENCY ANY OF THE FOLLOWING:
1. A VALID ARIZONA DRIVER LICENSE.
2. A VALID ARIZONA NONOPERATING IDENTIFICATION LICENSE.
3. A VALID TRIBAL ENROLLMENT CARD OR OTHER FORM OF TRIBAL IDENTIFICATION.
4. IF THE ENTITY REQUIRES PROOF OF LEGAL PRESENCE IN THE UNITED STATES BEFORE ISSUANCE, ANY VALID UNITED STATES FEDERAL, STATE OR LOCAL GOVERNMENT ISSUED IDENTIFICATION.
Subsequently, even U.S. citizens could be held until someone from Immigration and Customs Enforcement is called to sort them out.
Keep in mind that a cop can stop someone and begin the process during the "enforcement of any other law or ordinance of a county, city or town or this state." That's so broad as to include weed abatement and barking dogs.
(I should mention that none of this claptrap is "mirrored" in federal law, nor are the provisions dealing with day laborers and traffic, nor -- more importantly -- is allowing a state the privilege of writing its own immigration statutes.)
If there's a crime or ordinance being broken nearby where you are, and a cop stops you to question you about it, it opens the door for this process to begin.
Even if you are a U.S. citizen, you will be presumed to be an alien "unlawfully present" unless you have one of the above stated IDs -- assuming a cop has "reasonable suspicion" to think you're undocumented.
Kobach and his pawns in the state legislature later changed the law, which originally stated that a cop cannot "solely consider race, color or national origin." They've since taken the "solely" out, and they claim this means there will be no racial profiling.
This is highly disingenuous to say the least, when the "intent" of the law is to make "attrition through enforcement" the policy of the state. As the nativist Center for Immigration Studies has defined this loaded term, it means making life so difficult for illegal immigrants that they will self-deport.
Since the vast majority of Arizona's estimated 500,000 unauthorized aliens are from Mexico or Central America, it is reasonable to conclude that Latinos in Arizona will bear the brunt of police scrutiny.
So when someone slaps the "ethnic cleansing" label on the law, a label Nowicki is uncomfortable with, they are essentially correct.