Arizona Bill Forcing Officers to Determine Immigration Status Marks “All-Out Assault” on Latino Communities
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Arizona lawmakers have approved what’s being described as the harshest anti-immigrant measure in the country, forcing police officers to determine the immigration status of someone they suspect of being an undocumented immigrant. Meanwhile, over fifty people were arrested Thursday in a federal immigration sweep targeting van operators allegedly involved in smuggling in undocumented migrants from Mexico. We speak to Isabel Garcia, co-chair of the Tuscon-based Coalition for Human Rights and legal defender of Pima County, Arizona.
Guest: Isabel Garcia, co-chair of Coalición de Derechos Humanos, or the Coalition for Human Rights, a Tucson-based organization. She is also the legal defender of Pima County, Arizona and won the Lannan Foundation Cultural Freedom Award in 2008 and the 2006 National Human Rights Award from Mexico’s National Commission for Human Rights.
JUAN GONZALEZ: In Arizona, state lawmakers have approved what’s being described as the harshest anti-immigrant measure in the country. On Tuesday, the Arizona House of Representatives voted to force police officers to determine the immigration status of someone they suspect of being an undocumented immigrant. The state Senate passed a similar measure earlier this year, and Republican Governor Jan Brewer is expected to sign it into law.
Introduced by State Senator Russell Pearce, the bill would give an unprecedented amount of immigration enforcement power to local police officers. Immigrant rights and civil liberties groups in the state have vowed to challenge the new bill, warning that it will only increase racial profiling.
AMY GOODMAN: Meanwhile, federal law enforcement agencies mounted a massive operation across Arizona Thursday targeting van operators allegedly involved in smuggling undocumented migrants from Mexico. Nearly fifty people were arrested, and more than 800 federal agents were involved in the bust, that the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency is touting as its largest-ever human smuggling case.
For more on what’s happening in Arizona, we’re joined here in New York by Isabel Garcia, the co-chair of the Coalition of Human Rights, a Tucson-based organization. She’s also the legal defender of Pima County, Arizona, and won the Lannan Foundation Cultural Freedom Award in 2008 and the 2006 National Human Rights Award from Mexico’s National Commission for Human Rights.
Welcome to Democracy Now!
ISABEL GARCIA: Thank you very much.
AMY GOODMAN: Let’s start with the legislation. Can you explain what legislators have just passed?
ISABEL GARCIA: Yes. This legislature is probably the most extreme legislature in this country. This particular bill is intended to clean up everything they’ve not been able to do in the past few years, obligating police officers to determine immigration status, really giving racial profiling, of course, its largest boost, converting it to its most important law enforcement technique.
This law would also create a new crime in the state. If you’re undocumented in the state, you would be guilty of a trespass. People would have a private right of action, if police and other agencies didn’t determine immigration status. Immigration status would have to be shared by all agencies. It criminalizes day workers, day labor workers, whether you’re trying to hire somebody or whether they’re trying to be hired.
And so, of course, it represents for us an all-out assault on our communities, guaranteeing that Arizona, in fact, is the engine for all of the anti-immigrant legislation and politicians in this country, with apparently eleven states poised to follow suit, if in fact Governor Brewer signs this bill.
JUAN GONZALEZ: When you say criminalizing even day laborers, I was struck by—one part of the law would prohibit people from blocking traffic when they seek or offer day labor on the streets. So this would be—allow a license, basically, for the police to really target day laborers across the state.