Arizona Governor Jan Brewer has signed the controversial, xenophobic “papers” bill this hour, claiming that she was acting because the Federal government had not.

“Respect for the rule of law means respect for every law,” said Brewer, a Republican. “People across America are watching Arizona.

“We in Arizona have been more than patient waiting for Washington to act,” Brewer added. “But decades of inaction and misguided policy have created a dangerous and unacceptable situation.”

The law, which takes effect in 90 days, will make it a crime to be in the US without proper documentation. Anyone in Arizona can be asked by authorities to produce proof of their immigration status or citizenship—their “papers,” as it were—if they are suspected of being in the US illegally. What justifies that suspicion is, by most accounts, absurdly broad.

If Brewer truly meant to stimulate action in Washington with this signing, she might have gotten her wish. Earlier today, the imminent signing of the Arizona legislation prompted harsh words from the White House. As Dave Dayen remarks, “If in fact, the Congress starts to move the immigration reform bill faster than expected, I would imagine that the Arizona bill. . . would take up the space that the Anthem Blue Cross rate hikes did in the health care debate, or the SEC civil suit against Goldman Sachs is taking up in the Wall Street reform debate.”

UPDATE: Dave now has a bit more on the signing and reaction.

Gregg Levine

Gregg Levine