SB1070 has created quite a problem and a dividing line in Arizona and across the Country. I think the majority of people are more concerned about what the results will be or what they anticipate the officers will do as opposed to the actual wording of the statute. The wording itself is not that difficult to understand when compared to other laws created by the Arizona Legislature.
Here is the portion of Arizona’s immigration law causing most of the debate:
“For any lawful stop, detention or arrest made by a law enforcement official or a law enforcement agency of this state or a law enforcement official or a law enforcement agency of a county, city, town or other political subdivision of this state in the enforcement of any other law or ordinance of a county, city or town of this state where reasonable suspicion exists that the person is an alien and is unlawfully present in the United States, a reasonable attempt shall be made, when practicable, to determine the immigration status of the person, except if the determination may hinder or obstruct an investigation.”
According to the plain wording of the statute this is basically what is needed:
• First, there has to be a lawful stop, detention or arrest by an officer; and
• Second, the officer must have reasonable suspicion to believe that the person is an alien and is unlawfully present in the US.
If those two things are present then the officer is required to make a reasonable attempt to determine the person’s status. That is it. The wording is not confusing and is pretty clear. The confusion and the questions come from the meaning:
• What is a lawful stop or detention (an arrest is pretty easy to figure out);
• What is reasonable suspicion; and
• What can reasonable suspicion be based upon.
No one is sure how the law will actually play out, and whether it will actually take effect. In fact, the Arizona Republic had an article last week that included numerous scenarios with answers/comments by various lawyers and legislators and they all had different answers to the scenarios. By now you likely know that I am an attorney and I could even think of several different answers to each scenario because I am not even sure how to interpret it. Again, it will be the interpretation and the implementation of the law that will be problem.
And, following up on my last comment, the biggest concern comes from the interpretation and implementation by the cops. In fact, I don’t think the cops even know how to interpret or implement the law. The various agencies are hard at work coming up with a training program to teach the officers, but, things will likely change and they will make mistakes. I wouldn’t want to be a cop right now because they are stuck between a rock and a hard place. For those officers who don’t like the law they will still be required to follow it because they can be reprimanded/suspended/terminated if they don’t, AND they can be sued by any citizen. I suppose there are some cops that are salivating over the law and cannot wait for it to take effect, but I would like to hope that this number is few.
I will continue to keep you updated on my thoughts and the turn of events, but, in the meantime you can catch me on KTAR 92.3 on Thursday nights at 8:30 p.m.
Monica is a former prosecutor and a current civil litigator and criminal defense attorney in Phoenix, Arizona. She is also a familiar face on television providing legal commentary on networks such as Fox News, CNN and ABC. She and her husband had an amazingly beautiful in July 2008. Read about all their first and how this professional mom learns to handle the boss in the house.
Monica’s Firm – www.monicalindstrom.com
Personal Blog – Scottsdale Mama