Arizona's new immigration law (SB1070) will have significant impact on Texas, the border state where I live. I've read, viewed, and listened to many news stories, discussions, and opinions about the new law.
After taking it all in I'm left wondering why this law will change how an officer or deputy go about their regular duties. A traffic stop is a traffic stop; a domestic disturbance is a domestic disturbance; a burglary in progress is a burglary in progress; and so on.
Let's take a closer look. The law addresses "any lawful contact made by a law enforcement official or agency."
I'm reminded of the Law Enforcement Code of Ethics that doesn't discriminate between federal, state, county, or municipal law.
I'm reminded of the official oath that I took when I was sworn in:
"I, [name], do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the duties of the office of [position] of the State of Texas, and will to the best of my ability preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States and of this state, so help me God."
Here's my favorite section, "...preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States and of this state..."
Is the opposition stating that Arizona law enforcement officers don't hold the same ethics and integrity as in the code or oath?
The federal "Immigration and National Act," Section 103 (8), states:
"In the event the Attorney General determines that an actual or imminent mass influx of aliens arriving off the coast of the United States, or near a land border, presents urgent circumstances requiring an immediate Federal response, the Attorney General may authorize any state or local law enforcement officer, with the consent of the head of the department, agency, or establishment under whose jurisdiction the individual is serving, to perform or exercise any of the powers, privileges, or duties conferred or imposed by this act or regulations issued thereunder upon officers or employees of the service."
Does this mean our federal government doesn't believe there to be a mass influx of aliens?
In reading Arizona's immigration law (SB1070), article 8 is titled "Enforcement of Immigration Laws," and states:
"If an alien who is unlawfully present in the United States is convicted of a violation or convicted of a violation of state of local law, on discharge from imprisonment or assessment of any fine that is imposed, the alien shall be transferred immediately to the custody of the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement or the United States Customs and Border Protection."
Federal law states the burden of proof falls on the alien for documents of legal immigration. How can a transfer of custody take place if you aren't allowed to ask for documents?
If the concern is for U.S. citizen rights, we have the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The first section on citizenship rights reads:
"All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
The key phrase is "without due process of law." It is not a violation when probable cause, reasonable suspicion, and a legal arrest or detention exist to require a U.S. citizen to identify him or herself.
Would it not be difficult knowing someone had broken a law and you were told to turn a blind eye? This is not to be confused with officer discretion when written warnings are issued, which document probable cause.
Let us know what you think of the new law by adding a comment below.