Lawmaker: Phoenix police violating tough immigration policy
Posted September 15
PHOENIX — An Arizona lawmaker has accused Phoenix police of violating provisions of an immigration crackdown law that requires police to inquire about the immigration status of people they suspect of being in the country illegally.
Republican state Sen. John Kavanagh said Friday that policy changes the department adopted in July restrict when officers can inquire about a person's immigration status. A new requirement for a specialized supervisor to vet the request also adds roadblocks to checking with federal immigration officials.
The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that police can't hold someone longer than normally needed just to check their immigration status. The courts struck down several provisions of the 2010 law known as SB 1070, which launched protests and boycotts of the state.
But the Supreme Court upheld the section requiring officers to check a person's immigration status while enforcing other laws if they reasonably suspect the person might be in the country illegally.
"These are pretty glaring violations of SB 1070," Kavanagh said. "They shouldn't have implemented a patently illegal police operations order."
Phoenix spokeswoman Julie Watters said the police policy was reviewed by numerous attorneys familiar with immigration law and is very similar to those in place in the suburb of Mesa and Tucson, in southern Arizona.
"And, just like other cities throughout Arizona, our policy is designed to protect victims and witnesses," Watters said.
Arizona has been at the center of the national debate over illegal immigration for a decade, and Friday's developments come as immigration issues are again at the forefront.
President Donald Trump said last week that he was canceling a program that protected some young immigrants from deportation, setting off protests. The president has since met with top congressional Democrats in hopes of crafting a deal to protect the approximately 800,000 people protected under the Obama-era program.
Kavanagh is asking the state attorney general to review the policy under a 2016 law allowing a single lawmaker to trigger an investigation. If the attorney general determines the policy conflicts with state law, the city will have 30 days to eliminate it or face loss of state tax revenue.
Kavanagh said several parts of the new police operations order hinder the section of the law upheld by the Supreme Court.
"In one section, they say that the stop can only be if the person was pulled over for a crime. The law doesn't say that — the law says any violation of any law or ordinance," he said. "It can be littering, so they're totally restrictive there."