By Frank James
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer on Friday ended days of suspense and signed an anti-illegal immigration bill meant to crack down on the flow of undocumented immigrants into the state.
The legislation would let law enforcement officers request documentation of legal status to be in the U.S. of anyone they stop and suspect of being in the U.S. illegally.
The legislation would also allow a police officer to arrest someone if the officer "has probable cause to believe that the person has committed any public offense that makes the person removable from the United States." Illegally entering the country would be one such offense.
Critics, including President Barack Obama, have worried that the Arizona law would result in civil-rights violations of citizens and immigrants alike.
Obama even went so far on Friday as to warn Washington policymakers that there would be further "misguided" attempts like Arizona's by other states if Congress didn't act to make a comprehensive immigration overhaul a reality.
Brewer, a Republican, threw the word "misguided" back at the Democratic president, saying wrong-headed efforts by Washington had helped create the current crisis.
Brewer called the legislation:
"... Another tool for our state to use as we work to solve a crisis that we did not create and the federal government has refused to fix, the crisis caused by illegal immigration and Arizona's porous border... This bill protects all of us, every Arizona citizen and everyone here in our state lawfully and it does so while ensuring that the constitutional rights of all in Arizona remain solid, stable and steadfast..."
... For weeks, this legislation has been the subject of vigorous debate and intense criticism. My decision to sign it was by no means made lightly. I have listened patiently to both sides and I have considered the significance of this new law long into the night. I have prayed for strength and I have prayed for our state.
I've decided to sign Senate Bill 1070 into law because while many people disagree I firmly believe it represents what's best for Arizona."
Border related violence and crime due to illegal immigration are critically important issues for the people of our state, to my administration and to me as your governor and as a citizen.
There's no higher priority than protecting the citizens of Arizona. We cannot sacrifice our safety to the murderous greed of drug cartels. We cannot stand idly by as drophouses, kidnappings and violence compromise our quality of life. We cannot delay while the destruction happening south of our border, our international border, creeps its way north.
We in Arizona have been more than patient waiting for Washington to act. The decades of federal inaction and misguided policy have created a dangerous and unacceptable situation...