Arizona's legislature passed one of the toughest anti-illegal immigrant bills in the nation Tuesday that would require law enforcement officers in the state to request immigration documents during police stops.
The controversial bill, which passed the state's Senate Tuesday after being approved earlier by its House, would cement Arizona's reputation for having perhaps the nation's strictest approach to illegal immigration.
The legislation would also bar any city in the state from declaring itself a sanctuary for illegal immigrants.
The vote approving the bill was a party line vote. Arizona's Republican chief executive, Gov. Jan Brewer, is expected to sign the bill.
The Arizona Republic reported the following:
Tuesday's vote capped months of impassioned debate, fueled over the past two weeks by outrage over the murder of Douglas rancher Robert Krentz, who was shot near the border along well-known smuggling routes.
The vote came after a morning full of demonstrations for and against the measure. Advocates later watched intently from the House gallery and had to be quieted when they burst into applause as lawmakers made floor speeches.
The vote also was watched closely on the national stage, where there was widespread agreement the bill would put Arizona on the verge of being the national leader in tough immigration policy.
Currently, immigration offenses are violations of federal law, something most local law-enforcement agencies cannot enforce. The Arizona bill would require anyone whom police suspect of being in the country illegally to produce "an alien registration document," such as a green card, or be charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor and pay a minimum $500 fine.
"I think there is overwhelming evidence that Arizona has the most muscular immigration enforcement in the nation," said Steven Camarota, research director at the Center for Immigration Studies, a group in Washington, D.C., that favors policies that force illegal immigrants to leave the country.
Immigrant advocates are appalled at the bill's provisions.
"It's the most anti-immigrant legislation the U.S. has seen in a generation," said Chris Newman, legal director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network in Los Angeles.