On April 23, 2010, the state of Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed into law a broad and most strict anti-illegal immigration Bill which has received not only national controversy but also international attention. In this paper we are going to discuss the SB 1070 Arizona Immigration Law problem.Definition and agenda settingForeigners in the US have grown rapidly from the 1980s up-to-date. In 2008, those without legal authorization were estimated to be 30 percent of the population up from around 3 million in 1986. By 2006, the estimated number of aliens had more than tripled, this has resulted to several of the impacted states like Arizona come up with jurisdiction to deter the presence of unauthorized aliens in their states. Some laws like that of Arizona's SB 1070 requires that on top of the required federal law that aliens register with the government and have registration documents, the Arizona law makes it a crime for an alien to be in Arizona without carrying the above documents. The Arizona senate Bill 1070 was aimed at preventing illegal immigration especially on the Mexico-US border. The new law requires enforcement officials to check on the immigration status of a person they suspect to be in the US illegally if they have reasonable suspicion that they are in the US illegally. Any alien found to be in the US illegally will be charged with misdemeanor (Garcia M. J. 2010).The law has drawn mixed reactions from different quarters nationally. The American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU, has called the laws and its policies extreme. It further charges that it requires police to demand the required papers from people they stop whom they suspect to be in the state illegally, they thus claim that such kind of legislation invites racial profiling especially with people of color. The law also violates with the first Amendment as well as interfering with the federal laws (Cripps R. 2010). ACLU and a coalition of other civil rights unions filed a lawsuit in the US District Court challenging the new law. They claimed that the law will subject people perceived to be foreigners to harassment, investigation and arrest. The lawsuit also alleges that the Arizona law federal power over the immigration matters and also violates the Supremacy clause of the US Constitution.
Policy actors involved in the Arizona law includes Jan Brewer, the Arizona Governor who signed the Bill into law on April 23rd, 2010. A major sponsor of the Bill was Arizona's state senator, Russell Pearce, who has always been vocal on illegal migration. He has been quoted severally terming illegal immigrants as "invaders on the American sovereignty". The bill was majorly drafted by Kris Kobach who is a professor at the State University of Missouri. Kobach has long been associated with immigration reforms and has long written immigration bills for other states in the country. By January 2010, the bill had gained quiet number of sponsors and when in March 2010, a farmer by the name Krentz was killed by suspected illegal immigrant whose footprints was traced to the border, gave tangible evidence for supporting the bill (Miletich R. 2010).Although police have been demanding registration documents in subways and highways, Arizona is the first state that demands that immigrants must meet all federal requirements to carry identification documents to show that they are legitimate to be in America. The ACLU claims that this is a discriminatory law that will push the state of Arizona into fear, costly litigation and increased crime. There's also fear that the police may use the law to harass suspected immigrants to which Ms. Brewer acknowledges and says that they will ensure that the police have proper training to effect the law (Archibold R. C. 2010).The Arizona law requires that state, county and municipal employees to ascertain immigration status of a person they suspect to be in the US illegally. This is a systemic agenda and in the modern US, the immigration debate allows a convenient and legitimate place for some groups to vent their racial frustrations and antipathy. Policy Formulation and LegitimatingThe Arizona law has been opposed by several groups including the ACLU, a coalition of American civil rights group. The coalition of such groups includes; National Immigration Centre, ACLU, the Asian Pacific American Legal Center, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored people and MALDEF. According to a Constitutional scholar Chemerinsky at the University of California, the Arizona law is pre-empted by the Supreme law and the federal law. The Obama administration also filed a suit challenging the legality of the law, the Justice department has a preemption case. Some policy solutions by a group that is committed to stopping illegal immigration have been proposed. The policy which is called 'safe passage' proposes that the US should allow and in some cases help the more than 15 million illegal Hispanic workers who are believed to be residing in the US to leave freely (Jonsson P. 2010).The reasons for the safe passage is being fronted because it is believed that a mass deportation will be hard to effect as contrasted to a more voluntary return, this is according to an immigration expert Audrey Singer. She said that due to Arizona's stringent immigration laws, an estimated 100, 000 undocumented immigrants have either gone back or relocated to other states in the past two years (Jonsson P. 2010).
The law proponents like ACLU maintains that due to violation of state and federal statutes the Arizona law conflicts with, the law should be repealed because it contradicts four basic legal principles; the supremacy clause of the US constitution, equal protection and due process, first amendment of the US constitution and the fourth amendment of the constitution. According to the ACLU, the Arizona law is not only un-American but contradicts the law and hence unconstitutional. Thus for the problem to be solved, the law should not contradict the Supreme Law (Christina A. 2010). Some resolutions have been introduced in legislatures that are aimed at addressing Arizona's immigration laws. Illinois house, the California senate and New York senate did introduce resolutions opposing the Arizona law while Tennessee enacted a resolution supporting the law. California introduced its resolutions in June 2010 calling upon various stakeholders to withhold financial support of Arizona businesses. In Illinois, they asked Arizona to repeal SB 1070 and asked other stakeholders to act quickly to enact a comprehensive immigration reform law. Due to pressure from some quarters, the Bill was amended a week later to amend certain documents and clarify some definitions and such circumstances as to when immigration status can be questioned. Also affected were the fines that were reduced from a maximum of $500 to $100. The Bill was set to go into effect on July 28, 2010. Proponents and supporter's of the bill feel that the federal immigration laws have a void and are ineffective to curb immigration hence the Arizona law is just but a way of filling the void. Many of the Arizona residents have complained of increased crime and are tired of dealing with immigration (Hawes D. 2010).Although some efforts have been made to repeal the Arizona law, like the amendments that were done a week after the bill was signed into law, most Americans polled said they supported the bill. HB 2162 amended SB 1070 to rectify and specify to enforcing officials color and ethnicity concerns when implementing the provisions of the original law. Due to its popularity in some quarters, some 22 states are opting to affect the same kind of laws like those of Arizona. The legislature also eliminated language that was seen to prohibit a reasonable suspicion that a person is in the country illegally based solely on race or ethnicity. The matter was left for the Courts to decide whether these changes were contradicting the Constitution but it is widely expected that the US residents, either legal or illegal will be subjected to discrimination and racial profiling if the new law goes into effect.Implementing the above law according to experts is very expensive especially now that the state is suffering financially. Before the bill was passed, the Arizona legislature failed to produce details on how much the SB 1070 will cost. But the sheriff estimates that law-enforcement agencies will spend between $775, 8850 and $1,163,820 in processing expenses, jail costs will cost an upward of $21,195,600 to a whopping $96,086,720, the attorney and staff fees will cost #810,067-$1,620,134 in Yuma County only with a population of about 200, 000 people. There are 15 such counties in Arizona and by extension therefore, the state will have to spend 100s of millions of dollars to implement the SB 1070. The phoenix mayor estimates that the loss of convention to the state due to SB 1070 law will be about $90 million dollars over a period of 5 years due to boycotts. A study by the University of Arizona concludes that the economic output would drop by $29 million annually if the SB 1070 is implemented (American immigration council).The federal law and the Obama administration upon reading the Arizona SB 1070 law, considered the matter and on July 16th 2010, a law suit was filed before the laws were to be effected on July 28, 2010. (The US Supreme Court is set this December to hear arguments on a separate Arizona law that was enacted in 2007 mandating use of federal employment verification system and penalize employers hiring aliens). Based on equal protection, some individual have gone to court challenging the Arizona laws while some civil rights groups wants a permanent injunction. The law suit filed in May, 2010 stated that SB 1070 violates the supremacy of the constitution. On July 28, Judge Bolton granted in part and denied the motion for preliminary injunction. Some sections were barred from taking effect. These included; section 2B that required law enforcement officers to determine the immigration status of a suspected immigrant during any unlawful stop, section 3 was also barred as it required that all it was a crime against the state by not carrying federally issued registration documents and thus attracted a fine, section 5 that made it unlawful to any unauthorized alien to knowingly apply or work in Arizona. Section 6 that permitted an unwarranted officer to arrest if s/he has if he has any probable cause that the person has committed a crime that makes her/him to be removed from the US (Morse A. 2010). The Arizona governor later appealed on august 26, 2010, against the above judge Bolton ruling.Policy Analysis and EvaluationImmediately the law became law, its effect was felt in many areas. In some Christian churches within Arizona especially those with large immigrant concentrations, they was a reported drop of about 30 percent in attendance figures. In those areas, schools, hospitals and businesses reported drops in their numbers. These drops were linked to immigrants leaving Arizona to either going back to Mexico or leaving to other states within the US. In November 2010, a study conducted by the BBVA based on the current population survey said that the Hispanic population had reduced by about 100, 000 people. The Mexican government reported that about 23, 000 people returned to home after the bill became law in just its first week. The number of Hispanic democrats also increased sharply in the first week of legislation mainly because democrats were seen as sympathizers while it's a republican governor who signed the bill into law. Due to this fact that the bill has somehow managed to reduce the number of illegal immigrants in Arizona, some states are planning to introduce similar bills to SB 1070. These includes; South Carolina, Minnesota, Michigan, Rhode Island and Pennsylvania. In about 22 states, politicians are proposing the introduction of similar laws (Myers A. M. 2010).
The claim that the law contravenes the Supreme law is an issue that has not been fully decided upon. This is because if it does, then it will be inconsistent as the Supreme law will always prevail over state laws. Although the bill was passed and signed into law, there are pending court cases that are in court challenging its legality and whether it contravenes the Supreme Law. The first of suit challenging the law was filed in April 2010 by the National coalition of Latino clergy and Christian leaders separately in federal courts. And from unlikely quarters, a police officer followed suit claiming that by doing as per the SB 1070, he is forced to violate Hispanic rights. He further alleged that he could be forced to spend his own time and resources to study the new law requirements. Since then several suits have been filed in the courts appealing the Arizona state to repeal the laws and struck out some sections which are seen as discriminatory. Several Civil Right Groups have also followed the Obama administration to file suits against the law (Mirchandani R. 2010). The US department of Justice filed a lawsuit challenging the law and declared invalid. They expressed their concerns referencing the federal pre-emption notion. Another of the biggest reasons for challenging the law was that the immigration law was racial profiling. This is from a provision in the law that allows law enforcement officers to stop, detain and or arrest a suspect they deem a suspect, with "reasonable suspicion" that the person is an alien. The opponents of the law claim that because it is not possible to tell who a legal immigrant is or is not, this was an outright racial discrimination aimed at Latinos. Basically, the law enforcer's are seen to most likely use race, ethnicity, nationality and religion to narrow down the number of suspects by concentrating investigation to a particular field. This is seen as many as being discriminatory and delays justice especially when the suspected perpetrators do not fit the profile (Kaschang 2010). Most of the lawsuits in court are pending and from the look of things, the law will be diluted. Judge Bolton ruled and gave injunctions to some of the controversial clauses.The SB Arizona law can be said to be successive in trying to achieve its goals although there are impediments to fully implement the law. We have discussed that in the first week of introduction, different social places reported a reduced number of its members. Churches reported a declined number of its participants. Schools, hospitals and even businesses had the same effect. But again looking at the implementation process and the amount of money involved, one can wonder how the state of Arizona will implement the proposed laws. The courts are also likely to weaken its mandate when different rulings will be made concerning the lawsuits that are filed against the law. Some of its deemed controversial sections have been temporarily removed awaiting ruling.The Arizona SB 1070 law was signed in April 2010, aiming at curbing illegal immigration especially on the Mexico-US border. The new law requires enforcement officials to check on the immigration status of a person they suspect to be in the US illegally if they have reasonable suspicion that they are in the US illegally. Any alien found to be in the US illegally will be charged with misdemeanor. The law thus was seen as discriminatory and was opposed by several groups including the president himself. Lawsuits were filed and although no ruling has been made, injunctions were offered especially to sections and clauses that were seen to be discriminatory. Rulings are yet to be made on most lawsuits although there is likelihood that the law may be weakened. The issue of race profiling and ethnicity were identified as some of the reasons the law was opposed. The other reason for opposing the law was identified as contradicting the Supreme law of course which were not intended by those who drafted the law. We wait in anticipation as Judges make rulings on the lawsuits that are challenging the enactment of Arizona's SB 1070 laws.