In Arizona, arguably the state with the toughest immigration policies, a legislative proposal threatened to allow and require officials and agencies of the state, counties, cities and towns to perform racial profiling. If the bill had been enacted, police officers in Arizona would have been required to subject immigrants, residents and even American citizens to racial profiling by trying to determine the immigration status of anyone that does not appear to be a documented immigrant.
Furthermore, the proposal had the goal of transforming the civil infraction of trespassing a country’s borders into a criminal infraction by stating that those who are found to have entered the country illegally and are deemed “first-time offenders” will be charged with a misdemeanor and could serve up to six months in prison and that those deemed to be “returning offenders” will be charged with a felony and could serve up to 2.5 years. The Washington Post reported recently that this measure would have made Arizona “the only state to criminalize the presence of illegal immigrants through an expansion of its trespassing law”
The bill, which cleared the state Senate on June 15th with a 16-12 vote was rejected by the House by a five vote margin. The fact that this law got even this close to passing is frightening, and shows how deep seated the anti-immigrant sentiment is in this country.
Carolina Rizzo, DC Policy Intern