B’nai B’rith International is deeply disappointed that Gov. Jan Brewer signed into law April 23 a deeply flawed measure to address the very real problem of illegal immigration. The law, which goes into effect in August, would, among other things, enable law enforcement officers to demand to see documentation of anyone whom they “reasonably suspect” might be in this country illegally.
Unfortunately, the potential for harassment and fear inducement under such a law is great. Since the law provides no guidelines as to whom an officer might reasonably suspect is living in the United States illegally, the measure would inevitably result in racial profiling. The law also unfairly punishes legal immigrants for failing to carry immigration documentation.
The very wide berth the measure appears to give law enforcement runs a real risk of creating a climate of fear and mistrust of government and law enforcement officials. That, in turn, could lead to lawlessness.
To be sure, there is an immigration crisis in this country. And Arizona is certainly bearing the brunt of problems that come with illegal immigration. According to the Associated Press, there are about 460,000 undocumented residents in Arizona.
But this law, meant to help law enforcement identify and eventually deport illegal immigrants, overreaches. The potential harm vastly outweighs any benefits.
B’nai B’rith International is in favor of immigration reform that would increase border security and place millions of undocumented workers on a legal path toward citizenship. Immigration reform must be uniform across the United States. Arizona has stepped into what should be the province of the federal government, which has the responsibility to protect our borders.
At the very foundation of America’s greatest accomplishments is the successful integration of immigrants into our society. B’nai B’rith will continue to work to ensure much-needed immigration reform at the federal level.