Arizona governor signs controversial immigration bill

On Friday, amid criticism from President Obama, Gov. Jan Brewer (R-Ariz.) signed into law a bill that makes it a crime under state law to be in the U.S. illegally, according to The Washington Post.

The bill also requires local police officers to question people about their immigration status if there is reason to suspect they are illegal immigrants; allows lawsuits against government agencies that hinder enforcement of immigration laws; and makes it illegal to hire undocumented immigrants for day labor or knowingly transport them.

As Brewer signed the bill, hundreds of people protested outside the Arizona Capitol, saying the bill would lead to civil rights abuses. Brewer says the bill's critics are overreacting and she won't tolerate racial profiling.

"We in Arizona have been more than patient waiting for Washington to act," she says. "But decades of inaction and misguided policy have created a dangerous and unacceptable situation."

Earlier Friday, Obama said the immigration enforcement bill was "misguided" and instructed the Justice Department to examine the bill to see if it's legal. In addition, Obama said if the federal government does not enact immigration reform at a national level, it gives others the opportunity to act irresponsibly, as he believes Arizona has.

Groups such as the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund and the National Coalition of Latino Clergy and Christian Leaders Legal Defense Fund are planning a legal challenge to the bill.

The law will take effect in late July or early August. Brewer has ordered Arizona's law enforcement licensing agency to develop a training course on how to implement the law without violating civil rights.

"We must enforce the law evenly, and without regard to skin color, accent or social status," Brewer says. "We must prove the alarmists and cynics wrong."

Date : 4/27/2010