Monday, October 18, 2010

SB 1070 Leaves Arizonans in Limbo

Border Beat

But the ambiguity of SB 1070 is also its strength. The intent is “not to arrest people,” said Chin at a lecture at the UA, “but to make people leave.” Since the law’s legality is uncertain, people do not know how to conform. The only way to be sure you will not get arrested is to leave Arizona, he says.

And it appears families are moving out of state. At Los Amigos, one of the biggest elementary schools in the Sunnyside Unified School District, enrollment hovered at 760 students the past few years. This year, however, almost 8 percent less students can be found in their classrooms. School records show that more than 50 children moved out of state, according to second-grade teacher Allison Stirling.

“You had kids last year, and now they just disappeared,” Stirling says.

However, it’s nearly impossible to document whether they left because of SB 1070.

A confusing provision that has not been suspended by Bolton states: a person “in violation of a criminal offense” – such as possibly speeding or not filing taxes – cannot transport, harbor, conceal or shield an illegal immigrant, when he or she knows or suspects the person to be illegal.

But what does this mean? According to Chin, you may be committing a crime if you are speeding to get a dying illegal immigrant to the hospital. Even an off-duty EMT, who parks his or her car and obstructs traffic in the process of helping an unconscious illegal immigrant at an accident, could be arrested for violating SB 1070.

The drafters’ central idea behind SB 1070 was, “what is wrong with a state helping the federal government carrying out its own law?” Chin said.

But SB 1070 eliminates many of the rights an immigrant would have under federal law, since Arizona is not equipped to take over the full spectrum of federal immigration laws. Bolton points out in her court order that, “Congress has created and refined a complex and detailed statutory framework regulating immigration.” This means that immigration law is a complex and multi-layered body of rules implemented by federal institutions such the Department of Homeland Security.

It is designed this way to guarantee that a life-changing decision, like deportation, is not made in haste.

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