This week a tough new bill designed to aid local police and sheriffs arrest illegal aliens has advanced to the Arizona Senate. Wednesday’s 4-3 party-line vote, with Republicans in the majority, sends the SB 1070 to the floor for a full vote. The move is the latest effort by Sen. Russell Pearce, R-Mesa, to force local communities to do more to find, detain, and arrest or deport, those who entered the country illegally. Much of the debate centered on allowing local authorities to stop and detain people suspected of being an illegal alien. The new bill would also contain the following provisions:
• Paving the way for law enforcement to conduct “sting” operations to find companies knowingly hiring undocumented workers.
• Making it a crime to stop a vehicle on the street to pick up someone to do a “day labor” job.
• Requiring police to make a “reasonable attempt” to determine the immigration status of anyone they contact officially if there is “reasonable suspicion” they are an illegal immigrant.
• Permitting anyone to sue a city, county or any government that has policies which limit immigration enforcement by their employees “to less than the full extent permitted by law.”
John Thomas, lobbyist for the Arizona Association of Chiefs of Police, specifically questioned the section about officers being able to arrest suspected illegal immigrants.
“This requires federal immigration training,” he said, referring to a section of federal laws which allows Immigration and Customs Enforcement to train local police to enforce federal immigration laws. That training includes being able to properly identify who is and is not in this country legally.
But Pearce said all police officers have “inherent authority” to enforce federal immigration laws, even without special training. He said the only time special training is required is after someone is arrested to determine their legal status. “Our communities need to do more to find, detain, and arrest or deport, those who entered the country illegally”.
Arizona Republican legislators are trying to give local law enforcement more authority to stop and detain people that are suspected of being illegally present within the United States. For many years Federal immigration authorities have relied on local law enforcement to assist in identifying those that may be here illegally. It is only until recently that Sheriff Joe Arpaio has really brought the practice to a controversial head.
Under INA 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act(INA) (that is,Section 133 of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRAIRA) of 1996 titled “Acceptance of State Services to Carry Out Immigration Enforcement”). The Act describes the inherent arrest authority that has been possessed and exercised by state and local police since the earliest days of federal immigration law.
It has long been widely recognized that state and local police possess the inherent authority to arrest aliens who have violated criminal provisions of the INA. Once the arrest is made, the peace officer must contact federal immigration authorities and transfer the alien into their custody within a reasonable period of time. There are not enough nor will there ever be enough immigration agents to properly locate and identify all of the illegal aliens present within the United States therefore local authorities have played a neccessary role in immigration enforcement.
Pearce said, though, he’s not necessarily looking to fill Arizona jails with illegal immigrants. He said it gives discretion to law enforcement officers whether to seek prosecution or simply turn offenders over to ICE.