According to news reports, Nazis have taken over the government of Arizona and are now in the process of rounding up illegal aliens. It is rare that the passage of a state law gets media attention from every news outlet in the country and commentary from the President. As an attorney, I decided that I should read this law.
The law is Arizona Senate Bill 1070. A quick Google search for "Arizona SB 1070" turned up the law on the first page of the search in PDF format. The full text of the law is only 16 pages in length. Of that, approximately 12 pages of the law is existing Arizona law with minor amendment. The new text, the shocking mandates, are approximately four pages in length.
It is striking how many people have commented on this law who have apparently not read it. Since the law is written in plain English with normal sentence structure, rather than in legalese, the absence of informed commentary is surprising. It is an interesting read.
The very first thing it says is: "No official or agency of this state or a county, city, town or other political subdivision of this state may adopt a policy that limits or restricts the enforcement of federal immigration laws to less than the full extent permitted by federal law." Wow! Arizona passed a law requiring the enforcement of Federal Immigration Law. What a radical fascist concept!
The second thing it says is: "For any lawful contact made by a law enforcement official or agency of this state or a county, city, town or other political subdivision of this state where reasonable suspicion exists that the person is an alien who is unlawfully present in the united states, a reasonable attempt shall be made, when practicable, to determine the immigration status of the person. The person's immigration status shall be verified with the Federal Government pursuant to 8 United States Code section 1373(c)." For the non-lawyers out there, "reasonable suspicion" is the federally mandated prerequisite for any law enforcement officer to start to investigate any suspected criminal act. Again this law requires the law enforcement officers to obey Federal law.
Next the law states: "If an alien who is unlawfully present in the united states is convicted of a violation of state or local law, on discharge from imprisonment or assessment of any fine that is imposed, the alien shall be transferred immediately to the custody of the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement or the United States Customs and Border Protection."
That's it. Once the Gestapo have discovered a person who is engaged in criminal activity, and it is discovered that the person is an "undocumented alien," that alien is to be turned over to the U.S Immigration or Customs departments. That is very Nazi like. If an officer has a valid legal cause to investigate a crime, if there is probable cause to believe the person is here without permission, the officer is to follow the federal requirement to check status through the federal system and if the person should not be here, turn them to the federal immigration enforcement authorities.
The most radical part of the Arizona law states: "A person may bring an action in Superior Court to challenge any official or agency of this state or a county, city, town or other political subdivision of this state that adopts or implements a policy that limits or restricts the enforcement of federal immigration laws to less than the full extent permitted by federal law. If there is a judicial finding that an entity has violated this section, the court shall order any of the following:
1. That the person who brought the action recover court costs and
2. That the entity pay a civil penalty of not less than one
thousand dollars and not more than five thousand dollars for
each day that the policy has remained in effect after the
filing of an action pursuant to this subsection."
This law actually gives the citizens of Arizona the power to sue the state or local government for refusing to enforce Federal immigration law. How crazy is that??? Arizona citizens can now try to compel their government to follow the law.
Thomas Jefferson, the first Democrat, said, "that government which governs least, governs best." Clearly he was someone not in favor of big government. However, giving power to the people (demos, the root for Democrat, is the Greek word for people) to compel their government to uphold the law seems like a thing for which Jefferson would have approved.