US state of Arizona signs into law controversial immigration bill

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Saturday, April 24, 2010

In a move that has already ignited protests around the United States, Arizona governor Jan Brewer yesterday signed into law a bill that would crack down on immigration across the Mexican border.

Cquote1.svg [The bill] threaten[s] to undermine basic notions of fairness that we cherish as Americans, as well as the trust between police and their communities that is so crucial to keeping us safe Cquote2.svg

—US President Barack Obama

Widely regarded as the harshest measure against illegal immigration in the US, the bill would allow police to legally question and detain anyone if they have "reasonable suspicion" to do so, as well as making the failure to carry immigration papers a crime. Critics say that the bill would lead to discrimination and harassment against Hispanic people, whether or not they are legal citizens. The bill will enter into effect in mid-August of this year, 90 days after the current state legislative session ends.

The bill has been widely criticized both within Arizona and across the country. The most prominent criticism has come from President Obama, who said that the bill will "threaten to undermine basic notions of fairness that we cherish as Americans, as well as the trust between police and their communities that is so crucial to keeping us safe." The clause allowing police to demand documents was compared to Nazism by the Catholic cardinal in Los Angeles.

The law is expected to face several court challenges as soon as it enters into effect, and President Obama has already ordered the US Justice Department to determine the legality of the bill.

Speaking in support of the bill, Governor Brewer said that the law would represent "another tool for our state to use as we work to solve a crisis we did not create and the federal government has refused to fix." She said that she agreed with sponsors of the bill, who said that it would be an important asset in the fight against illegal immigration, particularly as Arizona is a major crossing point on the US-Mexico border. She said that Arizona had been "more than patient waiting for Washington to act. But decades of inaction and misguided policy have created a dangerous and unacceptable situation."


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