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US state lawmakers pass strong immigration bill

US state lawmakers pass strong immigration bill

Lawmakers in Arizona approved a sweeping immigration bill Monday intended to ramp up law enforcement efforts in the state, which borders Mexico, even as critics complained it could lead to racial profiling and other abuse.
The state Senate voted 17-11 nearly along party lines to send the bill to Governor Jan Brewer, who has not taken a position on the measure championed by fellow Republicans. The House approved the bill April 13.
The new measure would be the latest crackdown in Arizona, which has an estimated 460,000 illegal immigrants and is the nation's busiest border crossing point.
Arizona enacted a law in 2005 making human smuggling a state crime and prohibited employers from knowingly hiring illegal immigrants with a law in 2007.
The latest bill would make it a state crime for illegal immigrants to not have an alien registration document. It also would require police to question people about their immigration status if there's reason to suspect they're in the country illegally.
Other provisions allow citizen lawsuits against government agencies that hinder enforcement of immigration laws, and make it illegal for people to hire illegal immigrants for day labor or knowingly transport them.
Republican state senator Russell Pearce, who sponsored the bill, said it will take handcuffs off police and put them on violent criminals. "Enough is enough," Pearce said.
State senator Leah Landrum Taylor, a Democrat, predicted the legislation would cause chaos by spawning suspicion among neighbors, friends and relatives about who might be in the country illegally.
"Our state will be going completely backward," she said.
The Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund has all but promised a legal challenge if the legislation becomes law. The organization claims the measure is unconstitutional because the federal government is responsible for immigration enforcement.
Mexico's embassy also has voiced concerns about racial profiling.
Arizona law enforcement groups are split on the bill, with a union for Phoenix Police Department officers supporting it and a statewide association of police chiefs opposed.
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Associated Press Writers Jacques Billeaud and Jonathan J. Cooper contributed to this report.


Updated : 2021-10-22 12:45 GMT+08:00