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Draconian Anti-Immigration Law in Arizona

By Matthew Yglesias on April 21, 2010 at 10:44 am

"Draconian Anti-Immigration Law in Arizona"

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I knew that Arizona was passing some kind of draconian anti-immigration law, but I’m just now actually familiarizing myself with the details. Here’s Andrea Nill’s summary:

According to America’s Voice, the approved bill, entitled the “Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act,” would “make every undocumented worker in Arizona guilty of a criminal offense and require state and local police to go after them.” More specifically, it would allow police to arrest anyone who is in this country illegally and charge them with trespass, require police to attempt to determine the immigration status of anyone they encounter, outlaw the hiring of day laborers off the street, and prohibit anyone from knowingly transporting an undocumented immigrant for any reason.

This sounds like a declaration of open war on all Hispanic persons within the state boundaries. Suppose I find myself in Phoenix for work and I get robbed. I just might call the police to report it. Then all of a sudden we have a Phoenix police officer “encountering” some dude with a Spanish name and he needs to attempt to determine my immigration status. Well, I don’t make a habit of taking my passport with me. So what am I supposed to do? Call up CAP and have someone fax over my W-9? If it’s after business hours on the east coast am I going to be detained overnight.

I know a lot of people regard various “citizenship check” provisions to be commonsense, but asking people to be be able to verify their immigration status on the spot at any time is enormously burdensome. And in practice, it seems to me that it would just amount to large-scale harassment of Spanish-speakers and people with Spanish names, the vast majority of whom are legal residents.

Meanwhile, I do wonder about the politics here. Short-term politics is mostly about the economy, but in the long-run demographics matters a lot. For a decade now it’s been conventional wisdom that Republicans need to do more to appeal to Latino voters, but policywise they’re moving in the opposite direction.

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