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Criminal Law Newsletter

Law Makes it a Crime to Be Illegally Present in Arizona

An immigration bill signed by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer on April 23, 2010 was to be challenged in court, according to the Los Angeles Times. The law makes it a state crime to be present illegally in Arizona. It requires local police to ask for proof of lawful immigration status if there is a reasonable suspicion that someone is present in the state in violation of federal immigration law. The law would make the failure to carry immigration documents a crime and give the police broad power to detain anyone suspected of being in the country illegally. It also bars day laborers from soliciting work in public places in Arizona.

Constitutionality Questioned

Controversy over the law blew up across the United States as well as in Mexico, where the government was very vocal about its opposition to Arizona’s policies. Immigrant advocacy groups and constitutional law attorneys, including the ACLU and MALDEF, were preparing to file lawsuits aimed at stopping the law from taking effect. One of the main challenges proposed was the argument that only the federal government has the power to enforce its immigration laws. This is the same argument that effectively stopped many aspects of California’s Proposition 187 from taking effect over 20 years ago. Although the lawyer who drafted the Arizona bill attempted to avoid violating this core tenet of constitutional law, many legal commentators and analysts feel that the bill is vulnerable to a challenge on this basis.

Attorneys and Law Enforcement Raise Concerns

Attorneys will likely also bring additional legal arguments against the implementation of the new bill, which is believed by many to be an overzealous and xenophobic effort that will probably result in racial profiling, improper detentions of innocent people, and wasted government money. Additionally, law enforcement officers have raised concerns that the new law will subvert public safety efforts. Even before any lawsuits are filed, protests and boycotts of all kinds are being considered, organized, and executed around the country.

Seek Advice from an Attorney if You Have Been Arrested

If you have been arrested, seek advice from a criminal defense attorney immediately to understand your options and protect your rights.

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