Arizona Clears Strict Immigration Bill

By MIRIAM JORDAN
Arizona lawmakers on Tuesday passed one of the toughest pieces of immigration-enforcement legislation in the country, which would make it a violation of state law to be in the U.S. without proper documentation.

It would also grant police the power to stop and verify the immigration status of anyone they suspect of being illegal.

The bill could still face a veto from Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer. A spokesman for Ms. Brewer said she has not publicly commented on the bill. Ms. Brewer, a Republican, has argued for stringent immigration laws.

Under the measure, passed Tuesday by Arizona's lower house, after being passed earlier by the state Senate, foreign nationals are required to carry proof of legal residency.

Immigrants' rights groups roundly criticized the bill. "The objective is to make life miserable for immigrants so that they leave the state," said Chris Newman, general counsel for the Los Angeles-based National Day Laborer Organizing Network. "The bill constitutes a complete disregard for the rights of nonwhites in Arizona. It effectively mandates racial profiling."

The bill's author, State Sen. Russell Pearce, was in a committee session Tuesday and couldn't be reached, his offices said. Mr. Pearce, a Republican, represents the city of Mesa, in Maricopa County, whose sheriff, Joe Arpaio, has gained a national reputation for his tough stance on immigration enforcement. A spokesman for Mr. Arpaio didn't return a request for comment.

The bill is different from an earlier version, giving protections for church and community organizations from criminal prosecution for transporting or harboring illegal immigrants.

In a statement, Tuesday Rep. John Kavanagh (R-Fountain Hills) called the measure "a comprehensive immigration enforcement bill that addresses the concerns of our communities, constituents and colleagues."

WSJ