FEBRUARY 16, 2010
Fed up lawmakers in a Mexican border state plagued with huge numbers of illegal immigrants are increasingly taking matters into their own hands by passing laws to control the crisis long neglected by the federal government.
Weeks after an Arizona State House panel approved a pair of measures intended to curb illegal immigration, the Senate has passed a law prohibiting sanctuary cities in the state. The measure allows illegal aliens to be charged with trespassing, makes it unlawful for anyone—documented or undocumented—seeking work to enter a vehicle stopped on the street and penalizes drivers who impede traffic in an attempt to hire a day laborer.
The bill, which moves to the House for the crucial approval that could make it law, will also prohibit all state and local governments from adopting policies that restrict the enforcement of federal immigration measures. In fact, it requires state and local governments to comply with and assist in the enforcement of U.S. immigration laws.
In the last few weeks Arizona House committees have endorsed similar measures to conquer the state’s colossal illegal immigration crisis which is good news for the pending Senate bill. The first prevents cities, counties and police departments from prohibiting law enforcement officers from enforcing immigration laws. The other requires criminal charges for day laborers and those who hire them if they impede the normal flow of traffic on public streets.
The measures are necessary because at least four Arizona cities, like many others across the U.S., ignore a 1996 federal law that requires local governments to cooperate with immigration authorities. The so-called sanctuary policies protect illegal aliens by instructing public employees and law enforcement officers not to notify the federal government of illegal immigrants—including those convicted of serious crimes—living in their communities.
In Arizona’s case, the feds have actually impeded efforts by local police to crack down on illegal immigration. Sheriff sweeps that have cleaned up the sprawling Phoenix metropolitan area have been halted by the Justice Department amid allegations of racial profiling and violations of illegal aliens’ constitutional rights.
The operations were for years conducted under a local-federal partnership—known as 287(g)—that trains police officers nationwide to enforce immigration laws. The program has been effective in drastically reducing violent crime in local communities and aiding in the deportation of thousands of criminal illegal aliens who would otherwise fall through the cracks.
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