Civil Liberties

Does Arizona's Law Make Every Government Employee an Immigration Agent?

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Over at The Corner, Linda Chavez notes that Arizona's controversial new immigration law does not just instruct police officers to check the legal status of people they think might be unauthorized residents. That responsibility also applies to any "agency of this state or a county, city, town or other political subdivision of this state." This language seems to mean that all government employees, including public school teachers, dog catchers, trash collectors, and meter readers for municipal utility companies, are expected to be on the lookout for aliens who are unlawfully present in the United States. Should anyone with whom they cross paths in the course of their work arouse "reasonable suspicion," they are expected to make "a reasonable attempt…when practicable…to determine the immigration status of the person."

Since the law apparently deputizes all manner of state and local government employees as immigration agents, the argument that suspected aliens will be investigated only when they've been detained for some other reason cannot be correct. And even if we focus just on law enforcement officials, all that is required is a "lawful contact" plus "reasonable suspicion." Police are free to approach people in public and strike up a conversation; that would be a "lawful contact." As Matt Welch noted yesterday, police can even stop someone and pat him down, ostensibly for their own protection, if they think he may be involved in criminal activity and may be armed; that would be a "lawful contact." And as Steve Chapman noted in his column this week, police can stop motorists for all manner of trivial offenses; that would be a "lawful contact."

As for "reasonable suspicion," the law does not spell out what that means, although it does say an immigration check should not be based "solely" on "race, color or national origin." Regarding the implications of that proviso, Chavez writes:

The whole defense of racial preferences in college admissions and employment rests on the notion that race is simply one of many factors taken into account. But as the Center for Equal Opportunity's studies on racial preferences in college admissions have definitively shown, whenever race is taken into account—even as one of many factors—it always becomes the deciding factor. And it will here as well. We conservatives can't have it both ways: either we're for race-neutral justice or we're not. We can't be against using race when it helps minorities but for it when it harms them—at least not without legitimate criticism as to our motives.

As Chapman argues, it's hard to predict exactly what the law will mean in practice (assuming it is upheld by the courts). But its broad terms give police and other government agents a great deal of discretion in deciding whom to hassle, when, for what reason, and to what extent. "One of the bedrock principles of conservative jurisprudence," Chavez notes, is that "the words of a statute"—and "not simply the drafters' intentions"—"actually matter."

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  1. “”Since the law apparently deputizes all manner of state and local government employees as immigration agents,”‘

    Something states can not do.

    1. Really? Why?

    2. Local police arrest people all the time for violating federal drug laws. I do not think having Arizona police enforce immigration laws breaks any new legal ground.

      1. “”Local police arrest people all the time for violating federal drug laws.””

        Sure they are not violating state drug laws?

        Local and state police often accompany the feds on federal raids, but they are not in charge.

        Feds trump states in areas where the U.S. Constitution gives the feds jursidiction.

        1. Arizona sheriff’s deputy shot by peaceful drug smugglers looking for work:

          http://www.google.com/hostedne…..gD9FDVMQO0

          1. I wonder how many deputies were shot by peaceful booze smugglers several decades ago.

            1. It’s not the same thing! It’s not the same thing!

  2. all that is required is a “lawful contact” plus “reasonable suspicion

    Thats being changed in a follow up bill

    http://www.tucsonsentinel.com/…..70_changes

    1. I still can’t believe a law school professor would draft language that stupid. Actually, on second thought, I can totally believe that.

  3. We can’t be against using race when it helps minorities but for it when it harms them

    Ugh, I hate this sort of muddy thinking disguised as insight. The law is not aimed at a minority, it is aimed at illegal aliens who happen to be minorities. Big difference. If Arizona bordered, say, South Africa, and had trouble with thousands of illegal white South Africans committing various crimes and straining social services, and the federal government continued to do nothing, there would be just as much outcry about the problem and just as much support for the new law. (In fact, there would be more outcry and more support for the law, because the media and all the PC types would have no trouble seeing mass illegal immigration of white South Africans to be a problem.)

  4. although it does say an immigration check should not be based “solely” on “race, color or national origin.”

    Isn’t ‘National origin’ what they are supposed to be looking for?

    1. No they look for citizenship and documentation. This law treats a legal immigrant from Mexico and a US citizen born in the US the same way.

    2. No, immigration status is what they’re supposed to be looking for. It should matter if their backs are wet, frosty or wet and salty (for those crossing the Atlantic/Pacific).

  5. “Should anyone with whom they cross paths in the course of their work arouse “reasonable suspicion,” they are expected to make “a reasonable attempt…when practicable…to determine the immigration status of the person.”

    I’ve railed against the anti-immigration folk around here for enough years that I think I’ve earned the right to not be mistaken as one of them…

    But that quote up there to me looks like it’s something public officials should be doing with all other forms of crime anyway–burglary, vandalism, receipt of stolen property, kidnapping…

    If any public officials observe any of these crimes being committed, or has probable cause, I think they should report them immediately.

    Now, as a free market kind of guy, I may want to see a free flow of all economic inputs across borders–at least resources, labor and entrepreneurship–that can flow, but surely if the Federal government has any say over who should and shouldn’t be allowed in this country, it’s not unreasonable to insist that State and local government officials make the same probable cause judgment call they make when they report any other crime.

    I object to harsh anti-immigration laws and public policy on humanitarian grounds and on the grounds that they violate individual rights–the state should not be able to criminally prosecute me because of whom I hire to mow my lawn, watch my kids or pick my tomatoes. In other words, the government may have a duty to determine who should and shouldn’t be allowed across the border, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have a right to hire whomever I please…

    But me having a right to hire whomever I please doesn’t mean whoever I hire has a right to be within our borders.

    And just like an officer shouldn’t need a search warrant from a judge before he interferes with a suspected armed robbery in progress, I’m not sure you should need to be absolutely certain someone’s an illegal alien before you make an arrest for that either.

    If you don’t like the law, change the law. But everybody knows where all the illegal aliens line up for day labor in every city in the Southwest I’ve been to–and I’m not saying people shouldn’t be allowed to defend themselves on the basis that the officer who arrested them didn’t have probable cause…

    But probable cause is probable cause. Just because probable cause can be loosely interpreted, and has been in the past, doesn’t mean it can’t be used justly or that this law necessarily calls for it to be misused.

    Please note also that I take everything I’ve said here back if LoneWacko agrees with any part of it whatsoever.

  6. Frankly, if the Indians had had the foresight to pass such a bill 500 years ago, we wouldn’t need to have this discussion.

    1. They probably did, they just didn’t have the power to enforce it properly.

      1. They were illegally trespassing on each others lands for a thousand years before we got here. But I guess it’s only a crime if a white guy does it.

        1. American Indians had no real concept of property rights, no written language to create binding documents, no elected leadership with diplomatic powers…in other words, the various “nations” were little more than small associations of individuals held together by tribal customs, not principles of liberty.

          1. American Indians may not have had any real concept of individual property rights but they certainly had strong notions about the territory their tribe was entitled to control and exclude others from.

            They also tended to make strong distinctions between what members of their own tribe and members of other tribes were entitled to do.

  7. Ah, yes, the “agree to open borders and unlimited illegal immigration or you’re a racist” argument. Works every time.

    1. I’d could get behind the open borders crowd if they would also dismantle the welfare state.

      1. The welfare state is a huge impediment to any number of virtuous things, increased immigration being just one of them.

        1. It happens on the local level too. My suburban town spends way to much per student in the public school. So, the town council uses zoning laws to keep out poor inner city families, because they don’t want to pay for those kids attending the public school.

      2. Agreed. I may be to anarcho-free enterprise-individualist for your tastes, but once race is invoked by those who criticize the supporters of the Arizona law, the honest and rational exchange of ideas and debate has ended.

        1. It ended the day the bill was signed. Now we have imbeciles boycotting Arizona Iced Tea and the Arizona Diamondbacks baseball team. The retards have embraced the debate. Rational discourse is now impossible.

          1. Shows you how retarded they are… Arizona Iced Tea isn’t even made in Arizona, it’s made in New York!

            1. Yup. Irrationalism is driving much of the debate now. I look forward to seeing how the press portrays today’s inevitable Mayday violence/Arizona protests. Let me go out on a limb and predict that the violence will be justified because, in the eyes of their lefty-press apologists, the protesters are right. And they are not the Tea Party.

              1. violence? what violence?

                1. Their words are violent. Not to mention their signs. Have you seen their signs?

                  We are talking about the Tea Party, aren’t we?

    2. It isn’t illegal immigration if the border is open.

  8. They were illegally trespassing on each others lands for a thousand years before we got here. But I guess it’s only a crime if a white guy does it.

    You are just eight kinds of no fun.

  9. I say we should triple the immigration quotas. For all the screaming and yelling Democrats do when ever someone tries to enforce immigration laws, they haven’t lifted a finger to raise the immigartion quotas or make legal immigration easier. The Democrats keep millions of illegal immigrants dependent on them to keep the cops away rather than change the laws and give them true freedom.

  10. The Democrats keep millions of illegal immigrants dependent on them to keep the cops away rather than change the laws and give them true freedom.

    And they’d be interested in changing that why?

  11. NORTH AMERICAN TRADE AGREEMENT? So Mexico is threatening to boycott trade, with Arizona? What does it have in common with drug trafficking and illegal immigration? Last night it was made all to obnoxiously clear to me and everybody else who watched the very revealing National Geographic cable channel. Its made blatantly obvious that–FREE TRADE–from Mexico, is more important than the protection of the population of the United States by our own politicians. Each day thousands of 18 wheelers cross the border, to the gargantuan profit the owners of large American corporations with products manufactured the other side of the border. Thus cutting out the American worker and higher wages paid. But amongst that “Free Trade” is hidden large quantities of every conceivable narcotic, that the majority slips undetected past our undermanned, underfunded border. The border fence is an absolute parody when Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano tells the nation that the border is far more secure? That’s yet another joke thats on citizens, expressly the Americans who live in the border region.

    THIS IS THE TIME WE MUST INSIST ON EVERY BORDER STATE, PICKETING ARMED NATIONAL GUARD, TO REINFORCE THE US BORDER PATROL. We spent a–TRILLION–dollars in 2009 on the two far distant wars. What have they spent on the fence–TWO BILLION? ITS ALL BEEN ONE GIANT LIE. This is an absolute fabrication, because the TV documentary showed the tracks of drug smugglers called (Mules) hiking across millions of acres of desert and open range. One farmer, exposed to the viewer the miles of a three-stranded, rusted barbed wire, shallow river crossings and the hundreds of tracks of illegal aliens crossing into his land. The politicians can pretend that the border between us and them is sealed, but it is not a practical joke to the ranchers. They explain they cannot leave their homes, unless they are armed and has been this way for ten years or more. The Liberal press utter nothing about the deaths of Border patrol officers, police and other agents, battling to stop the incursion of narcotics into America?

    Its a literary a horror story of homes ransacked, cattle fences cut and piles of human garbage left behind. Everybody has a price, which includes the environmentalists who remain quiet to trash left in the desert. The whole truth resonated throughout the majority of the independent media, when a elderly Rancher, a humanitarian was slain for some obscure reason. Found dead slumped across his ATV, the investigators followed the footprints back to the border line and suspect drug traffickers? Just a month ago Homeland Security resources were cut that included further construction of the fence. The lies have reflected back on the politicians pushing for another outrageous mass Amnesty, as the separating fence between Mexico and the US, should have been 2 barriers. NOT ONE? With security patrolling tracks in the middle. But instead we got a fence that doesn’t exist in many places, where drug pedestrians and illegal aliens can slip through with ease. Some illegal aliens enter our sovereign nation to work, but millions find its simple to get free hand-outs from Liberal run state assemblies. A million other NumberUSA are waiting for you to join and fight back against another BLANKET AMNESTY with–FREE FAXES & PHONES

  12. How is this different from any other federal law? If a meter reader discovers a meth lab, you’d expect them to report it. Likewise, local cops have to enforce federal drug and gun laws, right?

    Not that I necessarily agree with those laws. But, this isn’t a unique situation.

  13. “””If a meter reader discovers a meth lab, you’d expect them to report it.””

    The meter reader may know what one looks like, or at least have some idea. There is no look for citizenship status.

  14. Firstly, why does “reasonable suspicion” need to be defined? Don’t we have Constitutional case-law governing this already?

    I do agree with Linda Chavez’s point, though. Why is race allowed to be a factor at all?

    1. How about because the only people the LEGAL people of Arizona have a problem with are the ILLEGAL MEXICANS!

      Stop dancing around the facts, acting like there are illegal whites, blacks, Koreans, Chinese, Japanese or ANY OTHER RACE.

      1. Careful Jim, your ignorance is showing. I worked for years as a Border Patrol Agent on the Mexican border and I can assure you there are many many many white, black, chinese, korean, and whatever other type of illegals you can think of. I have arrested Germans, Polish, Iraqi, Chinese, Burmese, Guatemalan, Nicaraguan, El sals, Brazilians, Peruvians, Canadians, etc. etc. So while the illegal German child molester will coast by because he doesn’t look mexican, we will have barney fife out harrasing american citizens for being driving while brown.

  15. Arizona immigration-policy fatigue rising…

  16. Arizona immigration-policy fatigue rising…

  17. “But its broad terms give police and other government agents a great deal of discretion in deciding whom to hassle, when, for what reason, and to what extent”

    The Terry standard (reasonable suspicion) has been law for over forty years. Cops have used it to do all of the above for over forty years.

    1. The phrase “lawful contact” would be changed to “lawful stop, detention or arrest” to clarify that an officer would not need to question a crime victim or witness about their legal status.

      The word “solely” would be eliminated from the sentence “A law enforcement official or agency ? may not solely consider race, color or national origin” in establishing reasonable suspicion that someone is in the country illegally.

    2. So, race cannot included in the grounds for “reasonable suspicion.” That sounds fair to me. I’m surprised that wasn’t how it was written before.

      I’m not sure what Kyrsten Sinema is “frightened” about in the article. So, if you’re violating an “ordinance” rather than part of the criminal code, you might possibly be asked to show ID. Is that right?

  18. Kyrsten Sinema is perpetually frightened/outraged/saddened, etc…

  19. Just posting to a dead thread
    http://www.kvoa.com/news/massi…..co-deputy/

    1. Just another Isolated Incident!

      1. More for the dead thread

        http://azstarnet.com/news/loca…..03286.html

  20. A handy shortcut in these contentious times, if you haven’t the time to think for yourself, is to figure out which side of the debate Keith Olbermann is on, then take the opposite position. Works 98% of the time. You’re welcome.

  21. This law is a de facto national ID law and every lover of liberty should be against it. Think about it. If you are walking in the street in Arizona and you don’t have an ID you can be detained until you prove your citizenship. This law is so deeply flawed it is ridiclous. It assumes that illegals look a certain way. IT is impossible to enforce without infringing upon the rights of US citizens. And I would rather live in a country with an illegal alien problem than one with the gestapo detaining everyone they are suspicious of.

    1. Maybe you should tell that to the assholes who created a situation that would inevitably lead to laws like this.

      I am certainly not going to blame the good citizens of Arizona for using the only tools available to them to deal with an intolerable situation. Nor do I blame the immigrants. Both of those parties are only acting in their rational self-interest.

      Nope. When I’m crying for my lost liberties, I’m going to pin the rose on the parties who deserve it – the assholes who facilitated the creation of a situation that need not have been created, and made the passage of these kind of laws inevitable.

      1. I agree with this 100%
        The law is popular here because of the total lack of the Feds to do anything. They managed to tightened up the border in the other states and make us here in Arizona the funnel.
        Over New Years we did a trip along the El Camino del Diablo. Anyone willing to walk through this for a $12.00 job is the kind of people we want in this country

      2. you mean the assholes who built the wall. i promise you that those who like this law also like the wall.

        1. Exactly who are these “assholes” who created “a situation”, and what situation”, exactly have “they” created?

          1. That question was intended for Slap the Enlightened!|5.1.10 @ 8:55PM

            1. Exactly who are these “assholes” who created “a situation”, and what situation”, exactly have “they” created?
              That question was intended for Slap the Enlightened!|5.1.10 @ 8:55PM

              I’ll take a stab at it. The assholes are the Feds. By not having a meaningful way for needed labor to legally immigrate you end up with people pouring through the border anyplace they can. By funneling the majority of the drugs through my state they have made southern AZ a very dangerous place.

              Legalize the drugs & the people and the problem goes away.

              1. How does legalizing drugs alleviate the kidnapping problem?

    2. “And I would rather live in a country with an illegal alien problem than one with the gestapo detaining everyone they are suspicious of.”

      If you live in the United States, police have had — since 1968 — the constitutional right to detain anyone they reasonably suspect of misconduct. Whatever “gestapo” you fear, you’ve been living with it for over forty years.

  22. Are you sure you aren’t just reading the clause as hysterically as possible? Seems to me that reading it to mean that “law enforcement” modifies both “official” and “agency” makes a lot more sense than the hysterical interpretation.

    Get a grip.

  23. Congratulations, Arizona Hispanics.
    By apparent default, your new spokesman is…Al Sharpton!

  24. I don’t care what you say, I’m still not moving back to DC.

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