Arizona’s new profile

Arizona is on the front lines in the battle over illegal immigration. More illegals reportedly cross that state’s border into the United States than anyplace else.  Drug violence has also come across the border. Earlier this month, a southern Arizona rancher was murdered and police believe the killers are linked to drug smugglers.

Now Arizona is also taking the lead in the legal battle over immigration. If Gov. Jan Brewer signs a law passed by the state Legislature this week, Arizona will have by far the toughest immigration law in the country. It will also have a court fight on its hands over the law’s constitutionality.

Brewer should veto the legislation for one reason: It is a prescription for racial profiling. It all but guarantees that Latino citizens of this country will be stopped and possibly arrested if they can’t immediately provide proof of citizenship.

The legislation makes it a crime for immigrants not to carry documents at all times proving they are in this country legally, and it requires police to check the status of people they “reasonably” suspect of being here illegally. If the police don’t perform that duty with enough enthusiasm, citizens can sue them.

That’s one reason some Arizona law enforcement authorities opposed the bill. Another is they fear that it will make Latinos — whether in this country legally or not — less willing to report or work with law enforcement on violent crimes.

Some parts of the Arizona bill are sensible, such as tough new sanctions on employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants, or those who transport illegals.

And Arizona’s frustration with the ineffectiveness of federal border control is understandable.

But a law that turns even legal residents of this country into second-class citizens, afraid they could be stopped and arrested simply because of how they look, is morally repugnant and almost certainly unconstitutional.


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