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FACT CHECK: More Than Just A ‘Very Few’ Police Officers Oppose New Arizona Immigration Law

By Andrea Nill Sanchez on April 21, 2010 at 2:00 pm

"FACT CHECK: More Than Just A ‘Very Few’ Police Officers Oppose New Arizona Immigration Law"

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This morning, state Rep. Frank Antenori (R-AZ) appeared on MSNBC to justify voting for the “Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act,” a bill which will probably end up establishing the harshest set of state immigration laws in the country. During the interview, MSNBC anchor Tamron Hall pointed out that there are “some” police officers in Arizona who are “unhappy with the bill.” Antenori and Hall engaged in a heated exchange as Antenori incessantly challenged Hall’s remark:

HALL: I should also note that there are police in the state who say that they are unhappy with the bill as well. I greatly appreciate your time, thank you so much.

ANTENORI: No no. M’am that’s not true. The majority of law enforcement officers support it, it’s only the Chiefs of Police…

HALL: I said there are some. You’re saying there are a majority. I’m saying there are some, which is my statement that you’ve attempted to correct. I said there were some, right? There are some, correct?

ANTENORI: Some. M’am it’s the Chiefs of Police who are appointed to those positions by members of the city council and mayors. The rank-and-file support this bill.

HALL: My only statement was that there are some police who are not happy and that was my statement. And we’re going to end it there. Thank you so much for your time. I appreciate it.

ANTENORI: Very few.

Watch it:

Hall is in fact correct. The Arizona Association of Chiefs of Police (AAOP) recently released a statement reaffirming the group’s opposition to the bill:

AACOP STATEMENT ON SENATE BILL 1070

The Arizona Association of Chiefs of Police (AACOP) remains in opposition to Senate Bill (SB) 1070. The provisions of the bill remain problematic and will negatively affect the ability of law enforcement agencies across the state to fulfill their many responsibilities in a timely manner.

While AACOP recognizes immigration as a significant issue in Arizona, we remain strong in our belief that it is an issue most appropriately addressed at the federal level. AACOP strongly urges the U. S. Congress to immediately initiate the necessary steps to begin the process of comprehensively addressing the immigration issue to provide solutions that are fair, logical, and equitable.

Should SB 1070 be signed into law by the Governor of Arizona, law enforcement professionals in the State of Arizona will enforce the provisions of the statute to the best of their abilities.

The AAOP is made up of law enforcement officials who rose through the ranks and have been appointed to leadership positions after spending years working in public safety in their respective communities. Mesa Police Sgt. Bryan Soller, who is president of the Mesa and Arizona Fraternal Order of Police — an association of sworn law enforcement officers — has expressed concerns that the bill “will bankrupt our city.” “What’s going to happen is you’re going to fear the police…they’re [immigrants] going to shy away from us instead of coming forward with information,” stated Soller in a local interview. The only evidence of rank-and-file support for Arizona’s stringent measure that Think Progress could find comes from the Phoenix Police Union.

Immigrants are five times less likely to be behind bars than native-born citizens. A 2007 study by University of California found that for every ethnic group, incarceration rates among young men are lowest for immigrants. Nonetheless, the new Arizona law will require law enforcement officials to dedicate scarce time and resources to detaining anyone who can not provide immediate proof of their legal status as part of any “lawful contact.”

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