Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed the toughest illegal immigration bill in the country on Friday. This southeast state shares a border with Mexico and has had a difficult immigration problem for decades. The bill, which has unleashed a storm of protests and a criticism by President Obama, would make it a crime not to carry immigration documents. It also gives the police broad power to hold anyone suspected of being in the country illegally. Critics have complained that it would open the door to wholesale harassment and discrimination of Hispanics by police.
The question is: what kind of criteria would the police use as a basis for suspicion? It requires police officers “when practicable” to detain people they reasonably suspect are in the country without authorization and to verify their status with federal officials, unless doing so would hinder an investigation or emergency medical treatment.