“Papers, Please” in Arizona

The Arizona legislature recently sent Senate Bill 1070 to the governor.

According to this summary from the Arizona legislature, the bill would require Arizona officials and agencies to determine the immigration status of any person with whom they have “lawful contact” where reasonable suspicion exists regarding the immigration status of the person. Any person arrested in Arizona would also have to have their immigration status established and verified with the federal government before they were released.

The documents that can be used to prove legal immigration status under the bill include a valid Arizona driver license, a valid Arizona nonoperating identification license, a valid tribal enrollment card or other tribal identification, or a valid federal-, state- or local-government-issued identification, if the issuing entity requires proof of legal presence before issuance.

If the governor signs the bill, what creates “reasonable suspicion” about immigration status is a question that will have lawyers busy for years.

I’m interested in how well practiced Arizonans and Arizona government officials will become at checking the papers of people in their state. I have little to worry about, of course, because I’m not an illegal immigrant.

UCSB history professor Harold Marcuse maintains a fascinating web page about Martin Niemöller’s famous quotation. There are many versions of it in its long history, and there may yet be more.