Defenders of Arizona’s immigration law, have repeatedly claimed that SB-1070 simply mirrors federal law. The Department of Justice’s (DOJ) legal challenge against the law is based on argument that SB-1070 is federally preempted and interferes with the federal government’s enforcement of immigration laws. If SB-1070 were really a “mirror image” of federal law, the DOJ wouldn’t have a very a strong case. However, Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox (R), who filed a brief in support of SB-1070 along with eight other states, admitted today on Fox News that the Arizona law is not identical to federal law:
Right now, in every single state, state police officers can exercise their discretion if they have reasonable suspicion that someone they stop is an illegal and check with the feds. What Arizona said, instead of leaving that up to the individual cop, we’re gonna make it our state policy that whenever there’s reasonable suspicion, we’re gonna give it to the feds. There really hasn’t been that big of change in the laws. The Obama administration is a little “miffed” that Arizona is forcing it to enforce immigration law.
Watch Cox and those who claim SB-1070 “mirrors” federal law:
However, what Cox dismisses as not “that big of a change” is actually a huge deal with potentially devastating effects. Before deciding to file the lawsuit, Attorney General Holder met with nine police chiefs who expressed concerns about what the difference between mandating local enforcement of immigration laws and allowing police to use “discretion” implies for the safety of their communities. “This law is the culmination of a very broken immigration system,” Phoenix Police Chief Jack Harris said. “It doesn’t fix the immigration problem, it only diverts our scarce resources.” Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck added, “This bill breaks the trust with our communities.”
Not only does SB-1070 require police to ask about immigration status, it also allows Arizona residents to sue law enforcement officials if they believe the law is not being enforced. Additionally, SB-1070 criminalizes several aspects of immigration that are only considered civil violations under federal law and in some cases aren’t even illegal — such as the transport of an undocumented immigrant and the solicitation of work in a public space (day labor). Finally the explicitly stated purpose of SB-1070 is to make “attrition through enforcement” the law. In other words, the law is crafted to make life in Arizona unbearable — if not impossible — so that they self-deport. The federal government meanwhile prioritizes removing dangerous undocumented immigrants. In its brief, the DOJ explains that the “federal government will be required to divert resources from its own, carefully considered enforcement priorities – dangerous aliens who pose a threat to national security and public safety – to address the work that Arizona will now create for it.”