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Wednesday, April 7, 2010 as of 11:14 AM ET


William La Jeunesse

Los Angeles, CA


Enforcing AZ’s New Immigration Law

July 21, 2010 - 9:43 AM | by: William La Jeunesse

For all that been said and written about Arizona’s new immigration law, enforcement comes down to a single moment – that 10 or 20 minute encounter between an officer and a suspect.

It depends on what a suspect says about who they are, where they live, how they got here, and what, if any documents they have to establish their identitiy.

“We will treat everyone as a citizen, until proven otherwise,” says Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu.

Across Arizona, through training videos and role playing, police are preparing to enforce the state’s new immigration law.

“If a person says I’m from Mexico, it begs the question, why are you here, are you visiting, are you a citizen,” Babeu told a group of 10 deputies last week during a session in Florence, Az.  “All these questions begin building to get us to that reasonable suspicion and the probable cause to make an arrest.”

The Obama Administration goes to court on Thursday to argue for a preliminary injunction to block Arizona’s controversial immigration law from taking effect on July 29. If they fail, police around the state will begin implementing the bill.

Already a huge fight is brewing between Phoenix police and top department brass. In a policy released yesterday, the city says cops must call ICE on every person they stop – even if the suspect presents a valid state drivers license. Under SB 1070, presentation of a valid ID is supposed to be presumptive proof of legal status.

Critics say the Phoenix PD policy is unnecessary, costly, foolish and intended to create a public backlash. Police officials say they are only trying to treat everyone the same, regardless of race or appearance.

In effect, that means a 75 year old white woman, who according to police computers has lived at the same address for five decades and has been a licensed Arizona driver since she was 16, gets treated the same as an 18 year old Hispanic male, with no U.S. ID, a voters registration card from El Salvador, who doesn’t know where is, and can’t speak a word of English.

“It appears that this policy is written with the goal of causing the new law to fail and undermine its effectiveness,” says Mark Spencer, president of the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association, which represents rank and file officers. Spencer says other Valley departments and the state Department of Public safety do accept a state issued identification as presumptive proof suspects are legal.

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