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Friday, April 30, 2010

Arizona House approved several new changes to Arizona's new immigration law

The Arizona House approved several new changes to Arizona's new immigration law. The changes still need final approval from the Senate before being passed along to the governor. If Gov. Jan Brewer supports them, they would go into effect at the same time the new law would.

The phrase "lawful contact" would be changed to "lawful stop, detention or arrest" to clarify that an officer would not need to question a crime victim or witness about their legal status.

The word "solely" would be eliminated from the sentence "A law enforcement official or agency … may not solely consider race, color or national origin" in establishing reasonable suspicion that someone is in the country illegally.

Bill sponsor Sen. Russell Pearce, R-Mesa, said the intent is to clarify that "this bill prohibits racial profiling in any form." Bill opponents had argued that the word "solely" allowed officers to base their reasonable suspicion on race and color as long as it wasn't just one of them.

Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Phoenix, said those two changes help clarify the bill, and lighten its impact somewhat. But she called a third change "frightening."

That change clarifies that a police officer responding to city ordinance violations would also be required to determine the immigration status of an individual they have reasonable suspicion of being in the country illegally. City ordinance violations vary by municipality but could include things like loud parties, barking dogs, cars on blocks in the yard or too many renters.

Bill supporters say the addition of the word "ordinance" does not change anything because under the signed law, officers could question the legal status of anyone they come into lawful contact with, whether that lawful contact related to a law or an ordinance. (Source The Arizona Republic)

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