Problems with Arizona immigration law

Evil Spock Beard The new Arizona immigration law has been met with much fanfare in the conservative media.  Border security and law enforcement are both important issues.  The negative economic hit our country takes from underground immigration and black market wages is real and tangible.  However, this particular piece of legislation raises serious questions on the size and scope of government power as well.

Yes, I am about to go off the reservation on this one.  To prepare you, I have included my photo complete with evil Spock beard and Yankees cap pictured to the right.

Enforcement:  According to this legislation immigration status may be checked for “any lawful contact” with a person if the officer has “reasonable suspicion.”  What it does not say is “upon lawful arrest” or even if the officer has “probable cause.”  These terms are intentionally vague to leave individual officers open ended discretion to stop and question anyone without probable cause.  This new immigration law may go even further because it puts non-law enforcement officials in a law enforcement capacity.  The way the law is written is “A LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICIAL OR AGENCY OF THIS STATE OR A COUNTY, CITY, TOWN OR OTHER POLITICAL SUBDIVISION OF THIS STATE.”  The dangerous and slippery slope of Big Brotherhood is a serious concern with such a precedent.

Here in Massachusetts they tried to turn our seat belt law from a secondary enforcement act to primary enforcement act a few years ago.  Police were given the authority to pull people over for “suspicion of not wearing a seat-belt.”  Thankfully, this government intrusion failed.  Just imagine the open ended and broad ranging authority the police would have to harass innocent people if it did.  In practice, an officer could pull over anyone, at any time, for any reason.

With the Arizona law similar problems could occur.  As with all laws, selective enforcement should be a concern.  Here in the United States we continue to seek the unobtainable goal of blind justice.  The intentionally subjective standard of “reasonable suspicion” may take us further from that goal.

Government Control:  If someone in Arizona (citizen or otherwise) is stopped by a police officer it is now incumbent upon the individual to prove his status without an underlying crime nor the burden of “probable cause” being placed on the officer.  Here in Massachusetts, a drivers license is only required if someone wishes to drive a vehicle on a government road.  Under this new Arizona law, government identification could be required as a condition of existence.  If a person in unable to produce identification he could be detained or arrested for this without committing any underlying crime.

Most conservatives have come down on the right side opposing an individual mandate for health insurance, opposing a national gun registry, and opposing an national ID card.  We should apply those same principles to this law as well.


Many aspects of this well intentioned law are worth keeping.  If anyone is arrested in Arizona, or any other state, his immigration status should always be checked.  However, it’s current form should be changed to protect our individual liberty.

“A government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to take everything you have.” – Thomas Jefferson.

“Fact Sheet” for SB 1070:…

Full Text of SB 1070:…

[poll id=”



About Mike "DD4RP" Rossettie

  • Exactly.  Small govt is beautiful, to steal a phrase.  Small govt is not letting the cops require you to produce proof of citizenship upon a dubious threshold like “reasonable suspicion”.

    Sure, they can ask – just like a police office can ask, during a traffic stop, you to open your trunk.  But you should also be able to say “no”.

    If the harm done by illegal immigrants is tax evasion, for instance, why couldn’t the cops ask to see my 1040s on random street stops.

    Yes, yes – arguing ad absurdium — but precedence is built up over time, and uses past decisions to push the envelope for new ones…

  • Did you miss the changes signed into law by the same AZ governor?

    (CNN) — Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed a bill Friday that makes changes to a controversial new state immigration law, saying the changes should ease concerns about racial profiling.

    “These changes specifically answer legal questions raised by some who expressed fears that the original law would somehow allow or lead to racial profiling,” Brewer said in a statement after the signing. “These new amendments make it crystal clear and undeniable that racial profiling is illegal and will not be tolerated in Arizona.”

    Using your seat belt analogy, the immigration issue is now secondary (having previously been primary).

    Under the law, police would be able to detain an individual based merely on the suspicion that he or she entered the country illegally. But one of the changes — which had been adopted by state lawmakers Thursday night — says police could stop suspected illegal immigrants only while enforcing some other law or ordinance.

    University of Arizona law professor Gabriel Chin told CNN that the changes to the bill are significant, insofar as they help remove a “huge disincentive for victims and witnesses to cooperate with the police.”

    The problem with your statement about conservatives opposing national gun registry & national ID card is that well, this is a state & not national law.  This is federalism at work.  This is the 10th Amendment!

    Yes, I also purposely picked CNN since I wanted to find a liberal media reaction, as opposed to say Fox News.

  • gg

    AZ is not MA…spend some time there…30% of the population is hispanic, your fears of driving or walking while brown or whatever the Sharpton term is, does not happen, even though law enforcement has been challenged repeatedly.

  • Here is commentary by someone who lives in Cochise County, AZ.

    Much has been discussed about the new law in Arizona making it unlawful to be in Arizona in violation of federal immigration statutes. However, much less has been discussed about the shooting of rancher Robert Krentz. Robert was killed on his ranch on March 28, 2010. His ranch, on which the family began grazing cattle in 1907 (Arizona became a state in 1912), is a large, 35,000-acre area in remote Cochise County. It is so remote that the original Cochise, an Apache leader, used the mountainous terrain near it to hide from the U.S. Cavalry in the early 1870s. But much less is being said about the eight illegal immigrants and their load of 280 pounds of marijuana seized the day before Krentz was killed.

    It also doesn’t take much more reading to see that the drug dealers are a huge problem with far-reaching capabilities. On April 27, 2010, a large drug bust took place here in Cochise County. Among those arrested was Angelica Marie Borquez, the secretary for the Drug Enforcement Division of the Cochise County Attorney office. Allegedly, Ms. Borquez was tipping off the drug runners to counter drug operations conducted by the county. She was so bold that she used the phone in the County Attorney’s office to make some of her calls.

    Many have already called Arizona residents racists. They are concerned that police will profile Hispanics and disproportionally harass them. But we understand something others in Washington, D.C. and San Francisco don’t seem to remember — we border Mexico. The fact is that most illegal immigrants coming across the border here are, well, Mexicans. Those of us down here facing the danger every day really don’t care what some Hollywood actor has to say about the issue. Nor do we care about what the Colombian government or the Latino music community thinks of it. We just want to stay safe.

    This is not about race; it’s about facts. Use a few of these facts the next time somebody wants to engage you in discussion about the border. Tell him you learned these things from somebody who can see Mexico from his front porch.

  • But what does it have to do with Arizona immigration law?

  • A.  They will not now nor ever enforce the immigration laws of past and long forgotten generations of American history.

    B. The very concept of nations is so 1945

    C. The dems have the “answer” to all of this in a biometric ID 666 Mark of the Beast card/chip work/no work travel/no travel comprehensive trillion dollar IT master database of Al-qaeda non-al-qaeda, birther, 911 truther, racist, homophobe, credit rated, criminal history, cory checked, body mass indexed,cholesterol numbered, Facebook commented, high carbon footprinted self.

    Yes, may you live in “interesting” times.  Blessing or curse.

  • ftt1975

    I have to carry my concealed carry license whenever I exercise my second amendment right and show it to the police when asked. An officer of the law can ask you to show identification under reasonable suspicision and run your name through their data base. They can also run your license plate with out asking you. If you are a citizen or legal resisdent you have nothing to worry about. Remember if your rights are ever violated you can always sue. The US is under invasion and far more drastic measures need to be taken to stop this epidemic.

  • and interesting analysis. Very challenging for rock solid conservatives and libertarians as we can see from some of the comments.  

  • WhatWouldReaganDo

    But with anything else in politics and public policy, there are questions of priorities and weighing the threat to individual liberty against the threat to our country, state, or society as a whole.

    I think the law as DD4RP read it might’ve been in territory that went too far in its threat to individual liberty, and I’m NO libertarian.

    But it looks as if these recent fixes change the law to make it “secondary enforcement,” which is exactly what should be done. I’m glad such concerns were fixed before they became an excuse to repeal the law as a whole.

    What states like Arizona are going through because of illegal immigration needs to be stopped. The exploding illegal population impacts public safety, the education system, and the health care system in disasterous ways, and kudos to Arizona for taking action.

    HOpefully the new law will force other states or the federal government to take action.    

    I think I would’ve probably supported this law even without the fix because of the damage illegal immigration is doing, and the potential for the law to spur real change.

    But its nice to know they’re getting it right before the left can use concerns like DD4RP’s against the bill to advocate for a wholesale repeal.