Immigration Newsletter

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Associated Press: AZ may criminalize presence of illegal immigrants

The Associated Press: AZ may criminalize presence of illegal immigrants

PHOENIX — Over the past several years, immigration hard-liners at the Arizona Legislature persuaded their colleagues to criminalize the presence of illegal border-crossers in the state and ban soft immigration policies in police agencies — only to be thwarted by vetoes from a Democratic governor.

This year, their prospects have improved. A proposal to draw local police deeper into the fight against illegal immigration has momentum, and even opponents expect the new Republican governor to sign off on the changes.

The proposal would make Arizona the only state to criminalize the presence of illegal immigrants through an expansion of its trespassing law. It also would require police to try to determine people's immigration status when there's reasonable suspicion they are in the country illegally.

RAD~ I worked on cases like this in New Hampshire back in 2005. The local police chiefs in Hudson and New Ipswich decided to arrest people who could not prove their lawful immigration status for trespassing. I believe this is a bad policy - it is also unlawful because the admission, registration and control of aliens in the United States is an area of legal responsibility reserved to the federal government. The legal doctrine of preemption, therefore, applies to actions by states and municipalities who attempt to create and enforce their own individual laws on immigration. I am born and raised in NH and don't like to think of my state this way but clearly it is more than a coincidence that the only two states that have tried to criminalize undocumented immigrants as trespassers (New Hampshire and Arizona)were also among the very last states to recognize Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

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