I’m visiting Arizona for a week, and I’m taking this opportunity to talk to some of the locals about the new immigration law. I’ve just begun, but I’ve already noticed a few interesting things. First of all, everyone I’ve talked to has repeated the claim that police will only be able to check someone’s immigration status if they are investigating some other crime (like speeding). In fact, they use opposing claims that the police will be able to check anyone’s papers as an example of misinformation that is being spread by people opposed to the new law.
Ironically, the widely respected (and non-partisan) PolitiFact investigated exactly these two claims. They rated False the claim “under the new Arizona immigration law, police can’t stop someone to check their immigration status unless they think they see something illegal.” And they rated Mostly True the claim “any police officer can stop anyone who appears to them to be reasonably suspicious of being an undocumented person.” So the people who were using this as an example of misinformation were themselves spreading misinformation.
Also interesting is the fact that one of the people I talked to, who is strongly in favor of the new law, admitted that he has hired illegal immigrants to do work on more than one occasion. He didn’t seem to see any contradiction in that.
UPDATE: Apparently the governor of Arizona is spreading misinformation. She also claims “under SB 1070 there must first be reasonable suspicion that you are breaking some OTHER non-immigration law before an officer can ask a person about their legal status.” I’ve read the law myself, and saw no language in the law to support that claim, and neither do the legal experts questioned by PolitiFact.