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‘Deep concerns’: Napolitano testifies Arizona immigration law will be reviewed

mexican car 100427b Deep concerns: Napolitano testifies Arizona immigration law will be reviewedRev. Jesse Jackson calls law ‘terrorism for the innocent’; NY Times reporter: ‘I’m not going back’ to ‘police state’; Illegal immigration critic Scarborough calls law un-American

Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano said Tuesday that US justice officials have “deep concerns” about a controversial new Arizona law that critics fear may encourage racial profiling and other acts of discrimination.

The law, signed Friday by Arizona’s Republican Governor Jan Brewer, allows police to question and detain anyone in the southwestern border state they believe may be an illegal immigrant, even if they are not suspected of committing another crime.

Napolitano said at a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee that the Justice Department is reviewing “whether the law meets constitutional safeguards.”

The Barack Obama administration has “deep concerns with the law from the law enforcement perspective,” she said, adding that officials worry that the law “will detract from resources that we need to focus on those on the country illegally — who are those who have committed the most serious crimes.”

The bill, enacted in Napolitano’s home state of Arizona, would require anyone in the state suspected of being an illegal immigrant to show a document proving their legal status, like a “green card” permanent residency document or a passport.

Opponents of the law say that if police demand papers from someone they suspect of being an illegal immigrant, and they turn out to be a US citizen, their constitutional rights will have been infringed.

The legislation — one of the strongest measures ever against illegal immigration in the United States — has ignited fury from rights groups and a fierce legal and political row, just as Democrats consider launching a comprehensive immigration reform bid months ahead of critical mid-term US elections.

An ACLU press release sent to RAW STORY states,

The Arizona law is the most extreme anti-immigrant law in the country, requiring law enforcement to question individuals about their immigration status during everyday police encounters, creating new immigration crimes and penalties inconsistent with those in federal law, asserting sweeping authority to detain and transport persons suspected of violating civil immigration laws and prohibiting speech and other expressive activity by persons seeking work. Secretary Napolitano stated that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has deep concerns with the law’s effects and that such broad immigration enforcement may detract and siphon resources away from ICE’s priority of focusing on the most serious criminals.

The American Civil Liberties Union fiercely opposes the Arizona law, believing it will result in racial and ethnic profiling and alienate immigrant communities from cooperating with the police.

Omar Jadwat, a staff attorney with the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project, added, “If there’s ever a time for the Obama administration to step in and take a stand for fairness and equality, the time is now. We call on the Obama administration to take every step within its power to make sure this abhorrent, discriminatory law never takes effect.”

As Huffington Post reports, “New York Times reporter Linda Greenhouse, who won the Pulitzer Prize for her Supreme Court coverage, has written a seething op-ed condemning the immigration law recently signed in Arizona.”

“Greenhouse ‘isn’t known for writing provocative opinion pieces,’ notes Washington Monthly’s Steve Benen,” the Huffington Post article adds. “She’s clearly outraged now, however.”

Greenhouse wrote,

I’m glad I’ve already seen the Grand Canyon.

Because I’m not going back to Arizona as long as it remains a police state, which is what the appalling anti-immigrant bill that Gov. Jan Brewer signed into law last week has turned it into.

What would Arizona’s revered libertarian icon, Barry Goldwater, say about a law that requires the police to demand proof of legal residency from any person with whom they have made “any lawful contact” and about whom they have “reasonable suspicion” that “the person is an alien who is unlawfully present in the United States?” Wasn’t the system of internal passports one of the most distasteful features of life in the Soviet Union and apartheid-era South Africa?

And in case the phrase “lawful contact” makes it appear as if the police are authorized to act only if they observe an undocumented-looking person actually committing a crime, another section strips the statute of even that fig leaf of reassurance. “A person is guilty of trespassing,” the law provides, by being “present on any public or private land in this state” while lacking authorization to be in the United States — a new crime of breathing while undocumented. The intent, according to the State Legislature, is “attrition through enforcement.”

Reverend Jesse Jackson talked with MSNBC’s Contessa Brewer about the law, blasting it as “terrorism for the innocent,” as noted by Redding News Review.

The law says, “You look suspicious because you are Mexican,” Jackson told MSNBC.

He also said that President Obama’s administration and not uncheck immigration is to blame for blacks being unable to find jobs.

“We have a lack of urban policy,” he said.

This video is from MSNBC’s News Live, broadcast April 27, 2010.

Watch this video on iPhone/iPad

As Washington Monthly notes, former Republican Congressman Joe Scarborough, known for his tough illegal immigration stance as a host on MSNBC, called the law “un-American.”

Scarborough said,

It does offend me when one out of every three citizens in the state of Arizona are Hispanics, and you have now put a target on the back of one out of three citizens, who, if they’re walking their dog around a neighborhood, if they’re walking their child to school, and they’re an American citizen, or a legal, legal immigrant — to now put a target on their back, and make them think that every time they walk out of their door they may have to prove something. I will tell you, that is un-American. It is unacceptable and it is un-American.

Video from Media Matters:

(with AFP report)

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