News / USA

    Arizona Police Prepare to Enforce Controversial Immigration Law

    Some law enforcement officials in Arizona are concerned that the state's controversial new immigration law, which takes effect on July 29, will create a burden for police. The law requires police in the state to check the immigration status of anyone they encounter in a lawful stop who shows some indication of being in the country illegally. Hispanics fear that suspicion could fall on anyone with dark skin, and result in police harassment of legal residents and citizens. Most police say they are prepared to enforce the law without violating any citizen's rights.

    Hispanic groups in Arizona have condemned the new state law for what they describe as encouraging racial profiling, but the law's defenders say it specifically bars police from detaining anyone based on ethnic or racial appearance. Arizona law enforcers are now training to carry out the law as it is written.

    Hipolito Acosta, a former federal immigration agent who now works for a Texas-based consulting group, recently helped make a training video for the Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training Board on how police should carry out their new duties.

    "It is like enforcing any other law," Acosta said. "You have to have certain factors built up before you make that stop and this law is no different, with the exception that there must have been some kind of lawful encounter before they start trying to determine those other factors."

    The new law says an officer stopping any person or persons and inquiring about their immigration status must have "reasonable suspicion" of someone having violated federal immigration law. But what does that mean? Acosta provides an example.

    "Let's say there are some bags in the vehicle which contain possibly some basic necessities, some water bottles, which would indicate a possibility that these individuals might have just crossed the border and walked through the desert, which happens quite a bit," Acosta said. "So the officer would then probably ask the individuals a simple question, did they have some identification or where they were going."

    One thing that makes discussion of this law difficult, however, is that many people outside law enforcement have not read the law. Sergeant Fabian Pacheco, Public Information Officer for the Tucson Police Department says many Hispanics fear the law out of ignorance.

    "A lot of people who are really worked up about this law, many of them, when you ask them if they have ever taken the chance to read the law you will be surprised, most of them have not, they are just going off all kinds of rumors that they are hearing regarding what and what not police are going to engage in," Pacheco said.  

    Pacheco says 40 percent of the Tucson Police force is Hispanic and that all officers, regardless of race or ethnicity, are trained to avoid racial profiling. Still, he says, he worries that the controversy created by the new law will cause many people, especially undocumented immigrants, to avoid the police and refrain from cooperating with criminal investigations.

    Pacheco also worries that officers' time will be taken up dealing with illegal aliens rather than responding to more serious crimes.

    "Officers in the past could quickly deal with a situation and then go back in service and deal with those calls for service that are of concern to people here such as responding to violent crimes or burglaries, robberies, stuff like that," Pacheco said. "Now they may be stuck at a call dealing with an undocumented immigrant."

    Some police officials also worry that officers could be sued by Arizona citizens who accuse them of not doing enough to enforce the law, while at the same time being criticized by civil rights activists for being too aggressive in carrying out the law's requirements.

    Jack Harris, the Phoenix Chief of Police and head of the Arizona Association of Chiefs of Police explains.

    "It puts Arizona law enforcement right in the middle," Harris said. "You have one side saying that we are going to be racial profiling; you have another side and a portion of the law that allows people who do not think we are doing enough to sue us and have some civil penalties attached to that as well. It is very, very divisive for us and makes it difficult for us to police our communities."

    Opinion polls in Arizona show overwhelming public support for the law, but few experts believe it will have an impact on illegal immigration. Arizona has become the point of entry for more than 40 percent of illegal entrants from Mexico since the federal government began programs to tighten control of the border in California and Texas. Phoenix has now become the world's second-worst city for kidnapping, next to Mexico City, and some Arizona authorities say smugglers of drugs and illegal immigrants are to blame. Ultimately, both critics and supporters of the new state law agree, the problem can only be solved by the federal government.

    You May Like

    Top US General: Turkish Media Report ‘Absurd'

    General Dunford rejects ‘irresponsible' claims of coup involvement by former four-star Army General Campbell, who led NATO forces in Afghanistan before retiring earlier this year

    Video Saving Ethiopian Children Thought to Be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at efforts of one African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children

    Protests Over Western Troops Threaten Libyan 'Unity' Government

    Fears mount that Islamist foes of ‘unity' government plan to declare a revolutionaries' council in Tripoli

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora