"The legislature finds that there is a compelling interest in the cooperative enforcement of federal immigration laws throughout all of Arizona. The legislature declares that the intent of this act is to make attrition through enforcement the public policy of all state and local government agencies in Arizona. The provisions of this act are intended to work together to discourage and deter the unlawful entry and presence of aliens and economic activity by persons unlawfully present in the United States."
This is the intent of the Arizona Senate Bill 1070 as written in Section 1. How Arizona proposes to make this a reality has become a source of discontent around the United States and with leaders in other countries. The Arizona legislature wants to "discourage and deter unlawful entry and presence" in their state. They are simply asking the laws of this country are enforced and followed. Does that really make them bad?
The text of the law is pretty short and can be read by anyone who does a quick search for the law in their favorite search engine. There is one paragraph that seems to be causing all the unrest.
Article 8 Enforcement of Immigration Laws, Subsection B states "For any lawful contact made by a law enforcement official or agency of this state or a county, city, town or other political subdivision of this state where reasonable suspicion exists that the person is an alien who is unlawfully present in the United State, a reasonable attempt shall be made, when practicable, to determine the immigration status of the person. The person's immigration status shall be verified with the federal government pursuant to 8 United States Code Section 1373(c)."
Reasonable suspicion is a legal term meaning an objectively justifiable suspicion that is based on specific facts or circumstances and that justifies stopping ... a person thought to be involved in criminal activity at the time.
Clearly this is not a license for a law enforcement officer or state agency to question anyone based on what he looks like -- read race. In fact, when reviewing the whole bill the term "race" is used twice and it is contained in this statement: "... shall not investigate complaints that are based solely on race, color or national origin". That passage is used in two locations within the bill.
Investigating the immigration status of someone based on specific facts or circumstances and not being based solely on race would make it hard to see where this law is racist as many people have complained.
The fallout from this law has been far reaching, but very symbolic in nature. The City of Seattle voted to boycott Arizona, but they chose to keep their contract with an Arizona company to supply the city with its cash-cow red-light cameras. Seattle showed Arizona! We won't do business with you, unless it makes us money. Take that Arizona!
The City of Los Angeles also voted to boycott Arizona. In order to not hurt their city, they have wisely chosen to ignore the fact they get energy from Arizona. So, their boycott is something like Seattle's -- a symbolic vote by an ignorant city council of feel-gooders.
Gary Pierce, a Commissioner from the Arizona Corporation Commission overseeing Arizona's electric and water utilities responded to the vote of the boycott with a letter to the Los Angeles Mayor and city council. In the letter he states Los Angeles gets approximately 25% of its electricity from Arizona. He writes to the Mayor asking that they reconsider their attempt at harming Arizona's economy if the city council doesn't have the strength to follow through with its convictions. In essence if Los Angeles wants to boycott Arizona, then they should also stop using Arizona's electricity.
What exactly are these cities boycotting? They are boycotting a law that specifically states that government officials must deal with people who break the law.