Arizona Gov. Brewer signs harsh immigration laws into effect

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer has signed the controversial state Senate bill 1070 into law. Arizona now has the toughest immigration-related laws in the country, making it a state crime to be in the country without the proper visa. The laws stretch beyond workplace or borderland inspections, putting the onus on local law enforcement to, among other things, ask suspects found at random for their documentation and take them into custody if they fail to produce it.

Support for the legislation built in recent weeks after the violent Arizona border culture, which pits local ranchers against human and drug traffickers, made national headlines. Popular rancher Robert Krentz was found murdered at the beginning of April, prompting politicians like Colorado’s Tom Tancredo– who was in the area when the murder occurred and tweeted the police chase that followed— to renew calls for federal action.

Gov. Brewer announced the signing at a press conference in Phoenix.

“Respect for the rule of law means respect for every law. People across America are watching Arizona.”

Civil rights and immigration activists were appalled by the harsh nature of the law and its possible consequences. They say it seems designed to encourage abuse and racial profiling. Immediately after news broke that the legislation had been signed into law, Gabe Gonzales of the Fair Immigration Reform Movement, released a statement targeting the portion of the bill that allows officers to zero in on people’s legal status:

What happened today in Arizona is a global embarrassment and a stain on our nation. No one in America should ever fear harassment and arrest by police simply because of the way they look…

President Obama must stop other states from following Arizona’s misguided path by taking a stronger leadership role in moving comprehensive immigration reform legislation.

The bill has been criticized by numerous lawmakers and President Obama. The ACLU of Arizona reported it was considering challenging the law in court.

In Colorado this week, the scope of the possible abuses Arizona may be welcoming were hinted at when the ACLU filed suit against Jefferson County Sheriff Ted Mink, who the group says illegally held Luis Quezada in jail last summer for 47 days stemming first from a traffic violation and then due to suspicion he may be an illegal alien. Quezada was never charged with a crime.

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