Sunday Tangent: Racial profiling of immigrants becomes legal in Arizona. However, controversy ensues.


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Hi Blog.  I have been hearing word from several sources about the new draconian laws being enacted in Arizona to catch illegal migrant workers, including legally-sanctioned racial profiling, and stopping people on the street for ID checks.  Many have said that it seems Arizona has taken a page out of the GOJ’s handbook for dealing with NJ in Japan.  The difference, however, is that 1) the US dragnet is (necessarily) a coarser mesh (as Japanese authorities have a wider view of who doesn’t “look Japanese”, since anyone can “look American” and more sophistication is needed over there), and 2) it’s caused a level of controversy that has never happened in Japan (imagine street protests to this degree, even a J prime  minister denouncing it?).

I believe it’s only a matter of time (and it will take some time) before the Arizona authorities stop the wrong person on racial grounds, other American laws kick in to protect people against racial discrimination, and American courts rule this Arizona law unconstitutional.  Wait and see.

That just ain’t gonna happen in Japan for obvious reasons:  We ain’t got no legal sanctions against racial discrimination, let alone this degree of people caring for the human rights of foreigners.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo


Mark in Yayoi writes:

Hey Debito, a bill just signed in Arizona:


Arizona’s Gov. Brewer Signs Controversial Immigration Bill

Brewer Says Law is Necessary to Solve a ‘Crisis,’ But Obama Calls Bill ‘Misguided’


ABC NEWS April 23, 2010 — Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed a controversial immigration bill into law today that will give local law enforcement greater authority to ferret out and arrest illegal immigrants.

Immediately before signing the bill into law, Brewer said that the legislation “represents another tool for our state to use as we work to solve a crisis that we did not create and that the federal government refuses to fix.”

“We in Arizona have been more than patient waiting for Washington to act,” Brewer said. “But decades of inaction and misguided policy have created a dangerous and unacceptable situation.”

The bill takes effect in 90 days after the current legislative sessions over the next several weeks.

“I firmly believe [the law] represents what’s best for Arizona,” said Brewer. “Border-related violence and crime due to illegal immigration are critically important issues for the people of our state, to my administration, and to me as your governor and as a citizen.”

The signing came just a few hours after President Obama harshly criticized the legislation, calling it “misguided.” The president also instructed the Justice Department to examine the Arizona law to see if it would violate civil rights.

Obama criticized the bill at a naturalization ceremony in the White House Rose Garden for active duty service members from 24 countries.

The president said if Congress fails to enact comprehensive immigration reform at the national level, “We will continue to see misguided efforts opening up around the country.”

The absence of a federal resolution of the controversial issue, he said, “opens the door to irresponsibility by others,” and he cited “the recent efforts in Arizona, which threaten to undermine basic notions of fairness that we cherish as Americans.”

So far this year, Congress and the administration have made little progress in advancing legislation on the issue.

Outside Capitol Building, Crowds Protest Decision

After the signing, crowds outside of the state capitol building erupted in anger. Carrying signs and American flags, they marched nearby, protesting the governor’s decision.

Brewer defended the law against claims that it is discriminatory, saying that she had worked for weeks to rework the language to strengthen civil rights protections. The governor also issued an executive order to develop training for state law enforcement to prevent racial discrimination or profiling.

“As committed as I am to protecting our state from crime associated with illegal immigration, I am equally committed to holding law enforcement accountable should this statue ever be misused to violate an individual’s rights,” she said.

The Arizona law makes it a crime under state law to be in the U.S. illegally and allows police to arrest and question suspected undocumented persons about their status without a warrant. It also criminalizes the transporting of an illegal immigrant anywhere in the state, even if by a family member.

Brewer, who faces a tough Republican primary in August, signed the same bill that former Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano, a Democrat, vetoed three times.

Brewer was under intense pressure to not sign the legislation. Civil rights groups have decried the sweeping measure as opening the door to racial profiling and sowing distrust between Hispanics and the law enforcement groups charged with keeping them safe. Others said the law will pull resources from fighting more-serious crimes.

Thousands of people wrote or called the governor’s office, with a 10-to-one majority opposing the bill, a spokeswoman said.

“I don’t think anything has been this extreme until this point,” said Bridgette Gomez, a 24-year-old math tutor. “The evil is racial profiling, to think that you’re going to always have to show identification. Because I’m tan, I must be illegal.”

But supporters of the law, including U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., have said it will help solve an illegal immigration crisis the federal government so far has not acted swiftly enough to contain.

Ariz. Immigration Bill Supporters Say They’re Enforcing Law

“Illegal is illegal,” said the bill’s sponsor, Republican state Sen. Russell Pearce. “We’ll have less crime. We’ll have lower taxes. We’ll have safer neighborhoods. We’ll have shorter lines in the emergency rooms. We’ll have smaller classrooms.”

An estimated 10.8 million immigrants live illegally in the U.S., according to the most recent Department of Homeland Security figures. About 460,000 live inside Arizona’s borders. Now that the Arizona bill has become law, it likely will face constitutional challenges.

President Obama said he’s instructed the Justice Department to “closely monitor” the situation and “examine the civilian rights” and other implications of the legislation.

The Mexican American Legal Defense Fund (MALDEF) and other groups are also preparing to challenge the legislation.

“The Constitution is pretty clear about having one set of rules,” said Thomas A. Saenz, general counsel and president of MALDEF. “Now, you have the state of Arizona coming along and creating an obstacle to federally mandated priorities.”

Still, state Sen. Pearce, a former deputy in the Maricopa County Sherriff’s Office, which is known for cracking down on illegal immigrants, said he’s merely trying to enforce law that’s already on the books.

“Illegal is not a race. It’s a crime. And in Arizona, we’re going to enforce the law … without apologies,” he said. “It’s just that simple.”

Vulnerable to Legal Challenges?

California attempted to pass a similar measure in 1994 — Proposition 187 — that was designed to keep illegal immigrants from using health, education and other social services.

Even though it passed, it was struck down by a federal court on the basis of constitutionality.

Similar legal challenges against Arizona are inevitable, Saenz said, and it will likely end up costing the state millions of dollars.

“Arizona is going to face very serious consequences if it enacts it,” Saenz said, comparing it to the experience in California, where the legislation was a “tremendously wasteful diversion of resources.”

“There was a palpable impact on international trade to California, in particular,” Saenz said. “It became clear over time that Mexican companies began to take their commerce through Texas and other border states because of pervasive hostility.”

But it’s high time states step up to the plate and do something about illegal immigrants, Pearce said.

“I would think this is a great opportunity to codify states’ inherent authority,” he said. “We created the federal government. We’re in charge. Constitutionally, we have inherent authority. It’s time to step up to the plate and start enforcing the law.”

This is not the first time Arizona’s state laws have come under fire. In 2005, the state made smuggling humans a state crime, and in 2007, it prohibited employers from knowingly hiring illegal immigrants.

Earlier this week, the state House voted for a provision that would require President Obama to show his birth certificate if he wants to be on the state’s ballot in the next presidential election.

Before the signing, protesters had hoped to build grassroots momentum to convince Gov. Brewer to veto the bill — an effort that ultimately failed.

“You hear story after story of youth that don’t find out until they’re 16 that they are undocumented because their parents didn’t tell them,” said Alicia Contreras, 26, a student at Arizona State University. “Arizona is ground zero for these type of immigration laws, and as a youth — high school, college students — we need to come together.”



It looks like the state of Arizona is going to become exactly like the nation of Japan when it comes to immigrants and their civil liberties.  Mandatory carrying of papers, police empowered to question people and demand papers, punishment up to 6 months in jail and $2500 fine.

Obama has already spoken out against it.  (Imagine a prime minister doing that here!)

Provisions of the law here:


Key Provisions of Arizona Immigration Legislation

Key provisions of Arizona immigration legislation signed into law by governor

The Associated Press

Key provisions of Arizona’s immigration legislation, signed into law by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer on Friday:

— Makes it a crime under state law to be in the country illegally by specifically requiring immigrants to have proof of their immigration status. Violations are a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $2,500. Repeat offenses would be a felony.

— Requires police officers to “make a reasonable attempt” to determine the immigration status of a person if there is a “reasonable suspicion” that he or she is an illegal immigrant. Race, color or national origin may not be the only things considered in implementation. Exceptions can be made if the attempt would hinder an investigation.

— Allow lawsuits against local or state government agencies that have policies that hinder enforcement of immigration laws. Would impose daily civil fines of $1,000-$5,000. There is pending follow-up legislation to halve the minimum to $500.

— Targets hiring of illegal immigrants as day laborers by prohibiting people from stopping a vehicle on a road to offer employment and by prohibiting a person from getting into a stopped vehicle on a street to be hired for work if it impedes traffic.

— The law will take effect by late July or early August.


It’s as if they copied this stuff straight out of NPA guidelines!

This really is disgusting.  Commenters on the two stories don’t seem to be cognizant of the plight of legal immigrants who don’t yet have US nationality (perhaps because with dual nationality being allowed in the US, there’s no reason to remain a “foreigner” if you’re long-term), and are focusing only on the difference between US citizens and illegals.

Fortunately, people are protesting it already, both online and in the real world.  It’ll be interesting to see what happens with the inevitable falsely-accused people.  Hopefully the news outlets won’t drop the story.  MIY

From Times Online (London)
April 22, 2010
Arizona Bill ‘puts racial profiling into law’
Giles Whittell, Washington, Courtesy of AI

An anti-immigration law condemned as a licence for racial profiling is expected to come into force in Arizona within the next 48 hours. The law would be the first in the US to give police the power to stop citizens and demand proof of legal residence in the US merely on suspicion of not carrying appropriate papers.

Arizona’s Republican Governor, under pressure from right-wing rivals for her job, has until Saturday afternoon to sign or veto the measure. The Catholic Archbishop of Los Angeles, a leading champion of immigration reform, has denounced it as a mandate for “German Nazi and Russian Communist techniques” of snooping and betrayal.

Up to ten other states are said to be considering similar laws as pressure mounts on the Republican Right and along America’s southern border for state-based immigration crackdowns in the absence of federal immigration reform.

The Arizona Bill would make it a crime for legal immigrants not to carry their alien registration papers, and would allow police to arrest those unable to produce them — potentially upending the presumption of innocence underpinning US law and the principle that its enforcement should be colour-blind.

“It basically puts racial profiling into law,” a spokeswoman for the Senate Democrats in the Arizona state assembly told The Times yesterday.

One of the measure’s Republican sponsors, Representative John Kavanagh, called it “a comprehensive immigration enforcement bill that addresses the concerns of our communities, constituents and colleagues … gives our local police officers the tools they need to combat illegal immigration”.

The progress of the hugely controversial Bill through the state assembly has been closely watched throughout the country, and helped by a wave of anger over the murder of an Arizona rancher 20 miles from the Mexican border last month. Robert Krentz, 58, was gunned down on his own property by an unknown assailant whom police assume was an illegal immigrant involved in a drug-smuggling operation.

In a sign of the pressure on moderate conservatives to be seen to get tough on illegal immigration in an election year, Senator John McCain, once a champion of progressive immigration reform, has stunned former colleagues by endorsing the Bill. “The state of Arizona is acting and doing what it feels it needs to do in light of the fact that the federal government is not fulfilling its fundamental responsibility — to secure our borders,” he told Fox News as the measure was approved by the State Assembly on Monday.

The Bill also has the support of Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, the senior law enforcement official in the Phoenix area, who has gloried for decades in the unofficial title of “America’s toughest cop”. Mr Arpaio has courted sanction by federal authorities for years by encouraging his deputies to stop those they suspect of being illegal immigrants and demand to see their papers.

Arizona has the highest per capita population of undocumented aliens, with 460,000 at the latest estimate. Cardinal Mahoney has called the new Bill “the country’s most retrogressive, mean-spirited and useless anti-immigrant law”.

The Arizona state assembly has invited further controversy by granting initial approval to a Bill that would require President Obama to submit his birth certificate before having his name entered on ballot papers for the 2012 presidential election.

Accusations that Mr Obama was not born in the US and is therefore not eligible for the Presidency have lingered in the blogosphere since his candidacy gained national traction in 2007. As a matter of record, he was born on August 4, 1961, in Hawaii where his birth certificate is on file. His campaign has released a certified scanned copy of the certificate but some 40 per cent of Americans remain doubtful or unsure where he was born, according to polls.

19 comments on “Sunday Tangent: Racial profiling of immigrants becomes legal in Arizona. However, controversy ensues.

  • I’ve been watching the news and I have been thinking, “Wow. This sounds just like something Debito would post” and lo and behold, it’s up here. I hope the anti-NJ do not use this as ammo for their own agenda.

    — Oh, they will.

  • Turner at Keeping Pace in Japan writes (excerpt):

    If you look foreign, police in Japan (and Arizona) have a right to stop you in your tracks, demand identification, and detain you if such documents aren’t available. I glazed over that first clause, but let’s come back to it: looking foreign. In a relatively ethnically homogenous country like Japan, this is pretty cut and dry: you’re not Japanese, you’re subject to interrogation. It’s been criticized heavily in recent years due to the growing numbers of new Japanese: Korean and Chinese descent, children born into interracial families, naturalized citizens, to name a few. Police still feel confident that if it looks like a foreigner, talks like a foreigner, and isn’t Japanese, hey, it’s a foreigner!

    Not imagine how this would go down in Arizona. The US is diverse. Period. I took the liberty of examining the state’s demographics from the 2008 census:

    White persons, percent, 2008 (a) 86.5%
    Black persons, percent, 2008 (a) 4.2%
    American Indian and Alaska Native persons, percent, 2008 (a) 4.9%
    Asian persons, percent, 2008 (a) 2.5%
    Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander, percent, 2008 (a) 0.2%
    Persons reporting two or more races, percent, 2008 1.8%
    Persons of Hispanic or Latino origin, percent, 2008 (b) 30.1%
    White persons not Hispanic, percent, 2008 58.4%

    30% Hispanic. Every time the police use their authority to stop someone of Hispanic descent (and I’d love to hear the reasons for this; should make for amusing and racist reads), they’re targeting one third of the population of their state. About two million people given another reason to fear the police. I already do, and I’m a clean cut white boy.

  • My first thought was something along the lines of, “Figures a Republican governor would push for something like this.” Fortunately, I think it’s only a matter of time before this new law is declared unconstitutional.

    But setting aside US politics, I can definitely see how equally ‘well-intended’ politicians in Japan will use this as yet another excuse to support racial profiling here, maybe even going so far as to claim that Americans living in Japan can’t expect better treatment precisely because of what is going on back home.

  • According to various news sources, Arizona expects legal challenges to its new law, so it is preparing guidelines for police officers to follow in enforcing it. These guidelines are aimed to prevent police officers from stopping people merely for “looking foreign”, instead requiring officers to have some identifiable probable cause for suspecting someone is in the country illegally.

    Only time will tell whether Arizona’s guidelines plan is an honest attempt to avoid racial profiling (although race would seem inextricably linked to a person’s likelihood to have illegally crossed into America from Mexico), or just a way to provide officers with a legally-defensible pretext for racial profiling. But either way, this is something Japanese cops don’t have to do; they can stop you and demand your ID just because they feel like it.

  • Policies like this just don’t make sense. Stopping people at random to find illegals is like trying to find a particular ant in an ant hill. All the government really needs to do to stop illegal immigration (or at least slow it down) is to fine businesses that employ illegals horrendous fees – ex. $250,000 for an offense plus an additional $100,000 for each illegal immigrant employed. It would surely bankrupt anyone skirting the law, and it would render most illegals untouchable.

    But on the same token, it would require a couple of things:
    1) The government would have to be prepared for the affect on businesses (seasonal work in particular). Most illegal immigrants are being employed to take advantage of them – can pay them less than minimum wage. There would have to be policies in place to assist these businesses hire legal workers.

    2) Businesses would need a reliable way to verify the legality of all employees (I’m assuming a social security card would be sufficient). This means an open line of communication between businesses and local/federal government.

    3) The government would need to revamp the process for gaining citizenship – make it easier, fund language courses, etc. The boost in tax revenue would probably more than pay for these services.

    They always seem to focus on individuals when examining illegal immigration, and now they’re implementing a race-based policy in Arizona that screams of discrimination.

  • Just went to 2channel to see what kind of reactions there are. Funny to see that there are a lot of comments that call for “Japan to do the same,” despite the fact that Japan HAS been doing something like this for a long long time.

    — Which shows just how ignorant those people are, and why I don’t waste my time looking around 2-Channel.

  • “‘Illegal is illegal,’ said the bill’s sponsor, Republican state Sen. Russell Pearce. ‘We’ll have less crime. We’ll have lower taxes. We’ll have safer neighborhoods. We’ll have shorter lines in the emergency rooms. We’ll have smaller classrooms.'”

    It’s comments like these that scare me the most, the kind that associate having immigrants in the country with a whole host of social evils. I mean, I suppose less people means less crime and shorter lines, but that would be true if you decided to kick out half of the white population of Arizona, too.

  • It is a sad day for the United States. I am not in favor of this law if American citizens or those LEGALLY in the United States are targetted.

    Unfortunately the United States, unlike Japan (with all its problems) has neglected its immigration laws and refused to enforce laws already on the books, thus the state of Arizona was forced to do this (rightly or wrongly so) due to some very high profile murder cases, the last one linked to below.

    I think it is impossible to even compare the immigration situation of Japan to that of the United States. Japan has a homogenous population where we stick out like sore thumbs and the U.S. has alot of races and nationalities mixed in.

    I think the real answer for the U.S. is to enforce the laws without random ID checks. I do not think Japan really needs random ID checks

    President Obama says he finds problems with this law but he has done absolutely nothing on this issue and the bi-partisan proposed Senate bill will REQUIRE AMERICAN CITIZENS to carry around RFID CHIPPED IDENTIFICATION with biometric data embedded. (Debito-san I think I emailed you an article on this a while ago.) Bush and Obama are locked 100% in synch on the immigration issue (Bush was trying to get amnesty for years) and the real power in the United States does not really give a hoot about the middle or lower class.

    It is fun to bash this law or use it to make comparisons with Japan but as I said above there is no comparison between the U.S. and Japan when it comes to immigration.

    Corporations want the cheap labor, politicians want the votes so they do nothing to solve the real problems and in the end the lower class and middle class get screwed with declining wages. The politicians use this to divide the American public further.

    [further tangent deleted]

  • Here it comes

    Problem, reaction, solution

    The proposed immigration reform with the new U.S. national ID card that all U.S. citizens will be required to carry.

    Papers please?

    P.S. Debito sorry about the tangent – would you call it a cotangent

    But I do think the issue of states rights in the U.S. (part of my tangent) points out another difference in the issues that Japan and the U.S. face when dealing with immigration. There is no equivalent in Japan to the 10th Amendment in the U.S. Constitution


  • The Shark says:

    I’ve got a question that doesn’t fit 100% into this blog entry but it might be of general interest as far as naturalized Japanese citizens are concerned.

    How should a naturalized Japanese citizen react if being stopped by the police and being asked for the gaijin card?
    Would it be enough to say “私は日本人です”(I’m Japanese)?

    According to Debito’s excellent advice elsewhere on this site, police can only stop and question you if they suspect you of having committed a crime and so on. But just hypothetically, what if they say that they suspect you of being a foreigner (just because you look foreign (in their eyes))?

    Part of this issue is that Japanese citizens are not required to carry IDs (unlike NJ citizens).

    Would they have to take my word for it if I claimed to be Japanese? Would it help if I used casual Japanese, e.g. “俺は日本人だぜ。”?
    Or would I have to tell them my name, address, or even past nationality (in order to avoid being arrested)?

    I’ve never had any police encounters so far. But in the unlikely event of a case like this happing I really wonder to what extend police actually could demand personal information.

    … I guess one way of finding out might be to spend an afternoon at Haneda or Narita airport …

    As I posted elsewhere earlier the Toyoko-Inn hotel would believe that I were Japanese if I claimed it and had Japanese language abilities. Does the same apply to the police? Would it help to point out that naturalized citizens still look the same after naturalization and that nationality therefore cannot be deducted from appearance?

  • @ The Shark 🙂

    Are you a human being here in Japan who appears to be Non-Japanese?
    Do you want to avoid being coerced into interrogations by police officers?
    Then here is how to respond when a police officer asks to speak with you:

    #1 Silently show your Alien Registration Card.*
    * or, if you are a Japanese National who appears to be Non-Japanese
    simply swallow your pride and say “Nihon Kokuseki Shutokusha Desu.”**

    #2 Then say, “Ittemo ii desu ka?”
    Repeat this exact sentence,
    without adding any other words,
    until the police officer admits, “Hai.”

    #3 After hearing “Hai.” you are free to leave.

    **For “Nihon Kokuseki Shutokusha”s who really want to say “Nihon-jin Desu”
    here’s a reality check written by Debito in September 1995:

    “Attitudes are still ‘a Japanese’ = ‘pure Japanese blood’, not ‘Japanese citizenship’.”

    Fast forward 14 years and the fact remains: a person with white or brown skin tone claiming to be Japanese is not likely to be believed.

    If a police officer asks for your Alien Registration Card, and you claim, “Nihon-jin desu.” he is likely to want proof, regardless of your rights.

    If you simply say “I’m Japanese” and walk away… the police officer might incorrectly assume that you’re lying and arrest you for obstruction.

    Of course, later, when they realize you ARE a Japanese National… you will be released.

    So the question is, are you so intent on avoiding admiting that you are merely NationalIZED that you’re willing to be unnecessarily detained+searched+arrested?

    Me personally, I would rather just say the words “Nihon Kokuseki Shutokusha” then ask “Ittemo ii desu ka?”, then hear “Hai”, THEN walk away Free.


    PS – If you have the time, energy, and will, to lengthen the detainment process,
    feel free to attempt to educate the police officers about your various rights.
    Risk: the police officer might decide to find (or invent) a reason to arrest you.
    Reward: your Rosa Parks speech might help make Japan better in the future.
    For example, before moving to #2, feel free to try saying the following sentences:

    Keisatsukan mo,
    mibun o shimesu shouhyou o
    keiji shinakereba narimasen.
    (Police officers also have to show their I.D.)

    Kousoku sare mata wa,
    Renkou sare moshiku wa,
    Kyouyou sareru koto wa nai.
    (You can’t force me to stay here,
    you can’t force me to go with you,
    and you can’t force me to answer.)

    Keisatsukan shokumu shikko hou,
    dai ni jou, dai ni kou to dai san kou.
    (Police Execution of Duties Law
    Article 2, Clause 2 and Clause 3.)

    Kyodou fushinsha DAKE ni,
    shokumu shitsumon suru koto
    dekimasu, guttaiteki ni donna
    fushin na koui o shimashitaka?
    (You can only question suspicious people,
    exactly what suspicious action did I do?)

    Reijou ga arimasuka?
    (Do you have a warrant?)

    Jinken no ihan desu node kouben shimasu.
    (This is a violation of human rights so I protest.)
    At this point one can calmly sit down as a protest.

    Watashi wa taiho sarete imasu ka?
    (Am I under arrest?)

    Donna yougi de taiho sarete imasu ka?
    (Under what charge am I under arrest?)

    (All inspired by Debito’s great summary.)

    And you can try in vain to complain like this guy did:

    But the bottom line is, if you just want to leave freely:
    #1 Silently show ARC or say“Nihon Kokuseki Shutokusha Desu.”
    #2 Repeat, “Ittemo ii desu ka?”calmly until they admit “Hai.”
    #3 After hearing “Hai.” you are free to leave. Leave freely. 🙂

  • > How should a naturalized Japanese citizen react if being stopped by the police and being asked for the gaijin card?

    I’ve done something like below:

    Make sure you have a copy of the law in your wallet to back up your statement.

    > Would they have to take my word for it if I claimed to be Japanese?

    Sometimes; sometimes not. It depends on who you deal with. A basic start would be something like: 国籍を証明する法的な義務はない。

    (If you have time, you could ask how they suggest proving it since Japan does not have any such standardized document beside maybe a passport. The police offices would be equally hard pressed to prove their own nationality.)

    If they do not let it go, they are likely to attempt a 職務質問, at which point you should ask what kind of 合理的な判断 and what 疑うに足りる相当な理由 there is for a crime. Often they will make up some kind of nonsense. Usually it is not worth arguing with, so let them ask their questions. However, know that you have no obligation to answer. Be patient and wait until they walk away.

    Again, make sure you have a copy of the law in your wallet to back up your statement.

    > Would it help to point out that […] nationality […] cannot be deducted from appearance?

    Probably not, but I like to remind them anyway:

    — Wow, you’re assuming a lot of reasonableness, especially with the combative tone. You sure you’re not trying to set our readers up?

  • For Immediate Release
    From: American Immigration Council []
    Sent: Tuesday, July 06, 2010 3:02 PM
    Subject: The United States v. Arizona

    The United States v. Arizona
    Drawing a Clear Line Between Federal and State Immigration Authority

    July 6, 2010

    Washington, D.C. – Today, the United States Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against the state of Arizona in federal court. The lawsuit, prompted by passage of SB 1070 in the Arizona legislature, will argue that federal law trumps the state statute and enforcing immigration law is a federal responsibility. The Department has requested a preliminary injunction to delay enactment of the law, arguing that the law’s operation will cause “irreparable harm.”

    “The federal government is taking an important step to reassert its authority over immigration policy in the United States, said Benjamin Johnson, Executive Director of the American Immigration Council. “While a legal challenge by the Department of Justice won’t resolve the public’s frustration with our broken immigration system, it will seek to define and protect the federal government’s constitutional authority to manage immigration.”

    Although states have always played a role in federal immigration enforcement, over the last 10 years more and more states have chosen to impose their local policies, priorities, and politics on our national immigration system. America can only have one immigration system, and the federal government must make clear where states’ authority begins and where it ends. The federal government must assert its authority to establish a uniform immigration policy that it can be held accountable for. In the current environment it is unclear who is responsible for setting immigration enforcement priorities and who is responsible for their success or failure.

    Also, while we applaud the administration’s decision to challenge the constitutionality of the Arizona law, we urge it to also look inward and correct other policies and programs that confuse the relationship between federal and state authority to enforce immigration laws. For example, the Department of Justice should rescind an Office of Legal Counsel memo issued in 2002 which opened the door for greater state action by reaching the, politically motivated, decision that states had inherent authority to enforce immigration laws. In addition, the Department of Homeland Security should rescind the 287(g) agreement in Maricopa County, Arizona where it has become clear that the agreement is being abused.

    At the end of the day, a lawsuit alone will not end the vacuum created by the lack of workable immigration laws. While the Department of Justice takes up the legal challenge, the Obama Administration and Congress must put the immigration issue squarely back where it belongs – in the halls of congress and on the desk of the President of the United States.


    For more information contact Wendy Sefsaf at 202-812-2499 or

  • Loverilakkuma says:

    This incident caught the media attention in the west. A San Diego woman who is working as a public school teacher stood up to an immigration officer at New Mexico checkpoint when being asking about her citizenship. An officer threatened her to detain if she refuses. She chose to be detained by refusing to give in to law enforcement’s bully tactic. She gave an officer a civic lesson that 1) nonwhites(blacks, Hispanics and immigrants) are being racially profiled in the same manner; and 2) she is NOT even border-crossing. After a hour and half of detainment, the authority let her go.

    I’m so glad to see people like her standing up to law enforcement’s abusive practice upon citizens. This is a good example of standing up to social injustice. Wish I see more people challenging police over ID in Japan.


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