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Arizona Governor Signs Controversial Immigration Law

Jan Brewer (R), the Governor of Arizona, signed SB 1070, the draconian immigration law which would mandate law enforcement to seek the proper documentation of anyone in the state suspected not to be in the country lawfully, at a ceremony just a moment ago. Brewer, the former Secretary of State who replaced Janet Napolitano as Governor when she became the Secretary of Homeland Security under President Obama, faced pressure from both sides of the immigration divide. Ultimately, she bowed to the xenophobic forces on her right, whose support she needs if she wants to win election (she’s in a tight primary at the moment).

Brewer responded to critics in a speech after the signing ceremony, saying that racial profiling is illegal and that law enforcement would be properly trained to handle the new law without depriving anyone’s civil rights. She noted that her critics were “waiting for us to fail” and would twist any incident arising from the law for political advantage, forcing them to be even more vigilant in implementation. But she said that she acted because the federal government had left a vacuum in Arizona and failed in its immigration policy.

Protesters outside the venue mostly opposed the bill.

The Arizona Republic has a report on the signing.

Hispanic leaders addressing the hundreds of protesters at the Capitol immediately vowed to wage a legal fight.

The new immigration law will require anyone whom police suspect of being in the country illegally to produce “an alien registration document,” such as a green card, or other proof of citizenship such as a passport or Arizona driver’s license.

It also makes it illegal to impede the flow of traffic by picking up day laborers for work. A day laborer who gets picked up for work, thus impeding traffic, would also be committing a criminal act […]

Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox said afterwards that the American Civil Liberties Union and the Mexican-American Defense Fund have already promised to fight implementation of the law.

“This is only the first step of a long battle, and I don’t lose,'” Wilcox said.

The President blasted the Arizona law in a speech at the White House today.

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David Dayen

David Dayen