PHOENIX (CN) – As Gov. Jan Brewer signed into law a controversial immigration bill that requires police to question people about their immigration status during everyday encounters, she said she had “prayed for strength and prayed for our state” and concluded that the law “represents what’s best for Arizona.” But Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon said he plans to bring up an item at Tuesday’s City Council meeting to challenge the law in court.
As she signed the law, Brewer said she will not tolerate racial profiling. She said she will require the Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training Board to develop training to prevent officers from racial profiling.
“We in Arizona have been more than patient waiting for Washington to act,” Brewer said. “But decades of federal inaction and misguided policy have created a dangerous and unacceptable situation.”
The law, which will not take effect until July or August, requires local law enforcement officials to determine the immigration status of a person if they have “reasonable suspicion” the person is in the country illegally, and to check their status with the federal government.
The “Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act,” by state Rep. Russell Pearce, also fines day workers if they seek work with a “gesture or a nod.” According to a 2009 Pew Hispanic Center report, approximately 10 percent of workers in Arizona are undocumented immigrants.
Before Brewer signed the bill on Friday, President Obama called it “misguided.” In a rare presidential slap at a state law, Obama said the bill threatens to “undermine basic notions of fairness that we cherish as Americans.”
“Our failure to act responsibly at the federal level will only open the door to irresponsibility by others,” the president said. He has instructed the Justice Department to examine the law to see if it’s constitutional.
The Rev. Al Sharpton and Lillian Rodríguez López, president of the Hispanic Federation, announced Sunday in New York City that they would go to Federal Court to challenge the law.
“The Arizona immigration bill is an affront to the civil rights of all Americans and an attempt to legalize racial profiling,” Sharpton said. “We will go to Arizona when this bill goes into effect and walk the streets with people who refuse to give identification and force arrest.”
An estimated 500,000 undocumented immigrants live in Arizona, according to the Pew Hispanic Center report.