Is Arizona's SB 1070 Immigration Law Constitutional?
Arizona’s Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act, introduced in the state legislature as SB 1070, was signed into law by Gov. Jan Brewer in April 2010. At the time of its passage, it was the strictest anti-immigration law in the country. The bill was scheduled to go into effect on July 29, 2010, but a federal judge issued an injunction that blocked many of the bill’s provisions the day before it was supposed to become law. The Supreme Court is considering the constitutionality of SB 1070 in Arizona v. United States.
SB 1070 is intended as an “attrition through enforcement” doctrine. SB 1070 mandates the carrying of proper documentation for any alien in Arizona, and it levies a misdemeanor on any person who is found without such documentation. It also requires state law enforcement officials to determine an individual’s immigration status during any routine stop, detention or arrest when the official has a reasonable suspicion that an individual might be in Arizona illegally. Additionally, SB 1070 strengthens penalties for hiring, sheltering, and transporting illegal immigrants.
Proponents of SB 1070 argue that Arizona has needed strict anti-immigration legislation for years, as the state’s proximity to Mexico makes it a prime locale for illegal entry into the United States. They argue that the law helps reduce crime, drug trafficking, and immigration resulting in safer neighborhoods, less people in jail, and more jobs for U.S. citizens.
Opponents of the bill focus on the provision that directs law enforcement officials to inquire into the immigration status of anyone they stop. Some worry that law enforcement officials will use race, color, or national origin as their basis for determining whether or not they have a reasonable doubt about a person’s immigration status even though the bill specifically forbids discrimination of this kind.
Is Arizona’s immigration law (SB 1070) constitutional? Here’s the Debate Club’s take: