Arizona governor signs toughest immigration bill in U.S.

10:55, April 24, 2010      

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Arizona Governor Jan Brewer on Friday signed into law an immigration bill that allows police to take tough action against illegal immigration.

The bill, seen as the toughest law of its kind in the United States, will require anyone whom police suspect of being in the country illegally to produce "an alien registration document," such as a green card, or other proof of citizenship such as a passport or Arizona driver's license, the Arizona Republic newspaper said on its website.

The law also makes it illegal to impede the flow of traffic by picking up day laborers for work. A day laborer who gets picked up for work, thus impeding traffic, would also be committing a criminal act.

Brewer said she signed the bill in response to "the crisis the federal government has refused to fix."

"We in Arizona have been more than patient waiting for Washington to act," Brewer said after signing the law.

She made the move despite President Barack Obama's criticism. Obama said earlier Friday that he has instructed the Justice Department to examine the Arizona bill to see if it's legal, adding that the federal government must enact immigration reform at the national level -- or leave the door open to " irresponsibility by others."

As Brewer spoke, hundreds of demonstrators gathered in Phoenix, the state capital of Arizona, to protest the bill. Hispanic leaders vowed to wage a legal fight.

Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon joined the protesters, saying he wants the city to sue.

"The governor clearly knows that her actions not only have split the state, but will now cause severe economic hardship to all our businesses at a time when we can't afford any losses. The executive order isn't worth the paper it's written on," Gordon said. "I'm extremely disappointed at the governor's actions."

Alfredo Gutierrez, a Latino community leader and former state senator, said: "Obviously, this is a very bad thing for the state from our point of view." He predicted acts of civil disobedience and economic consequences for the state as a result.

"This is apartheid for us. This law is influenced by laws of South Africa. It's amazing to me that in 2010, we are dealing with acts of such overt hatred anywhere in this country," Gutierrez said.

But Brewer insisted that the law will be consistent with federal immigration laws.

"People across America are watching Arizona," Brewer told a news conference, noting that critics nationally are "waiting for us to fail."

She also issued an executive order to develop training that will help police agencies appropriately implement the legislation, including what does or does not constitute reasonable suspicion that somebody is an illegal immigrant.

Brewer vowed to protect individual civil rights, saying: "I will not tolerate racial discrimination or racial profiling in Arizona."

She said she believes the law itself will protect those rights, directing police not to consider solely race or color in deciding whether to stop someone suspected of being in the country illegally.

The law goes into effect 90 days after the current legislative session ends, which is expected to be sometime in early May.

Source: Xinhua


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