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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Police react to AZ Immigration Bill

News traveled quickly on Friday about the passing of the new Senate Bill 1070, otherwise referred to as the Arizona Immigration Bill.

Gov. Jan Brewer signed the piece of legislation into law Friday afternoon. The new law allows law enforcement officials to ask for legal documentation relating to a person’s citizenship when suspicion arises as to whether or not they are in the state legally. The law also makes it a crime for illegal immigrants to be in the state of Arizona without federal documentation. Previously, laws regarding immigration documentaion were under federal jusisdiction, not state. If unable to provide proof of citizenship, it is within law enforcement’s power to arrest an individual.

Many public officials, law enforcement agencies, human rights groups and citizens alike have been up in arms over the governor’s decision to impose the law.

“”I think the new law is absurd. As far as my knowledge goes, without an ID, the police can just take someone off to jail and classify them as an illegal alien. I think if they are going to make a law like this that it should only be enforced with a certain radius of the conflict at the United States-Mexico border,”” said Ryan Jones, a psychology sophomore.

Others were in support of the new law.

“”I agree that if a person is unable to prove they are in the country legally, then they should be deported. This law just enforces that,”” said Katie Hanson, a political science freshman at Pima Community College.

Local law enforcement officials say it’s too soon to tell what sort of impact the law will have on the UA and Tucson community.

University of Arizona Police Department Crime Prevention Officer Andrew Valenzuela, who has worked with UAPD since April 2001, feels predicting student and community reaction would be premature.

“”It is too soon to tell. As far as I have heard, there has not been anything major that has happened in and around the UA area yet,”” Valenzuela said.

All week, people in opposition to the law have showcased their opposition in press conferences and protests held at the Arizona State Capitol.

In a speech delivered on April 21, Jennifer Allen, director of the Border Action Network said, “”Senator Pearce’s proposed legislation (SB1070) has nothing to do with upholding the law and everything to do with racial discrimination. We at the Border Action Network have collected thousands of petitions and the governor still refuses to meet with us, sending a signal that she is disregarding the voices of our community.””

While some feel as if their voices are not being heard and will not be heard with regard to the law, Valenzuela is confident the opinions of UA students and community members will have the opportunity to be freely expressed.

“”Everybody has a voice and everybody has a right to express that voice. We live in a day and time and work in such a place that we encourage you, as an individual or a group, to voice your opinions or complaints and to make some noise about it, as long as it is done within the confines of the law and what is constitutionally right,”” he said.

Jim Wallis, the CEO of Sojourners, a group that aims to “”articulate the biblical call to social justice,”” according to its website, stated at the press conference, “”This law is a social sin.””

Opposition groups say the law essentially makes it legal to racially profile an individual when it comes to questioning them about their documented status within the state.

However, Valenzuela feels that after proper training is provided, just as it is with any new law, the law will be enforced with respect to what is constitutionally acceptable.

“”We have to attend a training and get the legal update and know how it is we are supposed to act within the confines of the law and what is required of us on a constitutional level. There are a very tight set of guidelines that govern our professionalism and the treatment of individuals that may become subject under this law,”” he said.

Police and other law enforcement agencies have plenty of time to learn the ins and outs of carrying out the law, while being careful not to racially profile any individual.

Brewer said in statement that racial profiling will not be accepted and added, “”We have trust in our law enforcement.””

Valenzuela said, “”I don’t think that SB1070 will change the way do our business, per se. The passing of this law, once … it goes into effect, will just be added to a long list of things we have to enforce and put into common practice and train with.””

He added, “”On a personal level, initially it may seem like that is all we are doing, enforcing this law, that is. It may feel like that we are being burdened by something that we should not be burdened by.””

Regardless of personal feelings toward the law, Valenzuela insists that law enforcement will do its job without bias.

“”Our job here in the state of Arizona, not just here at the UA, but all agencies, is that we work for the state, were are employed by the taxpayers and it is my feeling that whatever law is enacted, whether we agree with it or not, we will enforce it. We took an oath to uphold the law and defend against threats foreign and domestic, like it or not,”” he said.

According to Sgt. Fabian Pacheco, a Tucson Police Department spokesman, the governor has directed that the Arizona Police Officer Standard and Training formulate a training program for all state police officers so they understand how to interpret the law and enforce it properly to avoid racial profiling.

“”We are sworn to uphold the law. We cannot pick and choose which laws to enforce because of our personal beliefs. The Tucson Police Department currently has a very good relationship with the Hispanic community. We have spent year after year building trust and partnering with the Hispanic community so that they may offer us support in solving problems and crime while minimizing conflict and vice-versa. The TPD will work hard not to hurt that relationship. I know that some may be hesitant and concerned to come to TPD to report crimes and such, but we want to send a clear message that racial profiling will not be tolerated. I have complete confidence that the men and women of TPD will work in a manner of professionalism and make sure to obey citizens’ civil rights,”” Pacheco said.

The law will take effect in early August, or 90 days after the adjournment of state legislature.

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