In Arizona, Patchwork Immigration Enforcement Will Endure
As they gear up for the scheduled implementation of Arizona’s SB 1070 immigration law tomorrow, local law enforcement officers are attempting to figure out how to enforce the new policies. The Justice Department claims SB 1070 would create a patchwork of immigration enforcement on the federal level, but The Arizona Republic points out that the law could create a similar patchwork problem for the state:
Proponents hoped Senate Bill 1070, which created the law earlier this year, would remove some discretion that police agencies have when it comes to enforcing immigration law, thereby prompting uniform enforcement. But a survey of Arizona police agencies indicates there is anything but a uniform approach.
In Phoenix and Tuscon, for instance, police departments are instructing officers to check immigration status on every person they arrest — regardless of suspicion of illegal immigration. Interestingly, the policy written by outspoken pro-enforcement Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County is among the less thorough, cautioning deputies to continue their policy of waiting on immigration questions until they are ready to make arrests.
SB 1070 supporters told the Arizona Republic the Pheonix and Tuscon policies are designed to clog the system and harm implementation of the law. And even without SB 1070, Arizona law enforcement agents in the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office are responsible for a huge percentage of deportations, perhaps due to the county’s more targeted approach. So ultimately, the number of status checks may not correlate with the number of people deported.
Enforcement might hit another snag in the form of the federal government, as The Wall Street Journal reports today. Only the federal government can deport illegal immigrants, and if they cannot — or will not — adjust to an increase from Arizona, the law could be rendered ineffective:
Because the federal immigration-enforcement agency has suggested it won’t necessarily cooperate in helping meet the law’s goal, local police could be forced to choose between holding detainees in their own jails or releasing them.