Arizona has even drawn the ire of the computer hacking group LulzSec. On June 23, 2011 LulzSec released hundreds of confidential records of the Arizona Department of Public Safety (ADPS). The groups says it's in retaliation for Arizona's strict illegal immigration law.
In releasing the information, including personal information and emails of ADPS, LulzSec's acting more like WikiLeaks. Arizona's immigration law remains mired in a court challenge. It's been declared unconstitutional in part already by a federal district court judge. In the same week as LulzSec's disclosures, a federal judge in Indiana blocked enforcement of that state's new immigration law too.
Sometimes, when you don't get the help you need, and maybe even think you deserve, you have to take things into your own hands to get something done. You may get the job done, but you may make a lot of people unhappy, too.
Arizona's Immigration Issues
As you may recall from geography class, Arizona shares a border with Mexico. And, the state's been battling illegal immigration for years. It was a hot topic during the Bush Administration and an even hotter topic during the 2008 Presidential election. It was hot, but no federal immigration reform law passed.
Two years later, Arizona took matters into its own hands. In late April 2010, it passed an immigration law that, among other things:
- Requires immigrants to carry their US immigration registration papers at all times while in the state, such as a green card or visa, or other documents showing they're in the US legally
- Requires Arizona state and local law enforcement officers to confirm the immigration status of anyone who the officers reasonably suspect is in the US illegally
- Allows Arizona state and local law enforcement officers to arrest illegal immigrants and transfer them to federal officials
The law stirred controversy almost immediately, mainly because of the language requiring officers to stop and investigate anyone they have a "reasonable suspicion" of being in the country illegally. To many that's "racial profiling." What's that?
According to former Arizona Attorney General Janet Napolitano (she's now the Secretary of the US Department of Homeland Security), it's when the police use your race or ethnic background as a factor in determining if there's reasonable suspicion to stop, question, or arrest you. Unless, of course, your race is identifies you as a suspect.
Under the US Constitution, as well as the state constitutions, it's illegal for law enforcement officers to use racial profiling as the sole reason to stop, question, or arrest you.
Reactions to the Bill
Almost as quickly as the controversy started and people started arguing and debating the new law, more concrete reactions cropped up across the US. For instance:
- A veteran police officer in Tucson, Arizona, was the first to file a lawsuit against the new law. He claims, among other things, the law forces him to racially profile, which could open him up to being sued by persons he arrests
- The City of Tucson, Arizona filed a lawsuit in the police officer's case. It wants the court to declare the law unconstitutional so the City won't get punished by the state for not enforcing the new law. The City claims it doesn't have the financial or other resources needed to enforce it
- The American Civil Liberties Union, National Immigration Law Center (NILC), and other civil rights groups have said they plan to file lawsuits against the law
- The US Department of Justice is considering filing a lawsuit
- Cities like Los Angeles, California and Austin, Texas are boycotting and refusing to do business with Arizona, such as buying or using goods or services from the state
Students are leaving the University of Arizona to enroll in colleges and universities in other states
Not all reactions have been negative, though. The law has a lot of support from everyday citizens across the US. And officials in other states, such as Ohio, want a law similar to Arizona's law.
Next: What's next for Arizona and immigration reform?