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Few Changes Under Arizona Immigration Law

When Arizona passed its illegal immigration crackdown, SB 1070, civil rights groups around the country argued it would lead to racial profiling and more arrests and stops of people deemed to look like undocumented immigrants. It’s tough to say whether these fears would have been realized had the full law been enacted — a federal judge blocked many of the relevant provisions before the law went into effect in July. So far, at least, the law has not had much of an effect on anything: Immigrant rights groups and law enforcement agencies say there have been no arrests or citations using SB 1070, and no Arizona citizens have filed lawsuits charging that officials are not enforcing federal law on immigration, the Arizona Republic reports.

Judge Susan Bolton blocked the provision of the law that would have required police to verify immigration status on people they could reasonably suspect to be illegal immigrants. But a number of provisions did go into effect, the Republic reports:

- Require government officials and agencies to enforce federal immigration laws to the fullest extent permitted by federal law and allow Arizona residents to sue if the official or agency adopts a policy that violates this requirement.

  • Allow law enforcement to pull anybody over for any traffic violation if the driver is suspected of engaging in the “smuggling” of human beings for profit or commercial purposes. This could include stopping a driver for a secondary offense such as not wearing a seat belt, which in every other circumstance can be cited only if the driver is stopped for a separate primary violation such as speeding.
  • Make it a crime to pick up or be picked up as a day laborer if the vehicle is stopped on a road and impeding traffic.
  • Make it a crime to encourage an illegal immigrant to come to Arizona or transport, conceal, harbor or shield an immigrant if the person knows or recklessly disregards the fact the immigrant is in the country illegally. This offense has to be during the commission of another criminal offense.

Rights groups and law enforcement agencies reported no change in policing of those provisions. Perhaps for that reason, some immigrant rights advocates said the law has not met its goal of “attrition through enforcement,” or driving out undocumented immigrants through harsh crackdowns. This, too, is hard to measure: While there are many reports of illegal immigrants fleeing the state out of fear of SB 1070, there are so far no hard numbers, and only anecdotal evidence that the law is more to blame than the economy.

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