Police are supposed to demand proof of legal residency from any person they lawfully contact and have "reasonable suspicion" that the person is an unlawful alien. Then it states that all illegal immigrants are criminals (being present makes them trespassers [see correction below]).
How is this different that Nazis criminalizing the Jews and them rounding them up for their crime of being present? If the best you can answer is, "well, we're not going to send Mexicans to the gas chambers," then you really need to raise your bar of morality.
How the hell can so-called anti-government conservatives and tea-party people (and John "I used to stand by my principles until I lost an election" McCain) support such a totalitarian big-government law? Oh, because they're not anti-government. They're just anti this government. The democratically elected government. I mean, if you're really just anti-government, there are libertarians out there you can rally around and vote for.
Warning to Republicans: if you haven't already, you're slipping off the deep end. On the plus side, if this is considered conservative, it makes liberals (or "libs" as you like to say) look good.
I don't think there's any chance this law will pass constitutional muster. But God save us if it does. And regardless, that test is years away. Reasonable suspicion? Oh, it's come such a long and scary way from Terry v. Ohio.
In 1968, Terry made frisking a person for weapons based on "reasonable suspicion" constitutional. This decision introduced the "reasonable suspicion" concept and said it is what is needed for a stop or frisk (the Fourth Amendment's "probable cause" is needed for a search or arrest). Terry was an eight-to-one decision.
Justice Douglas was the one. It is too bad that his dissent has become more and more prescient:
To give the police greater power than a magistrate is to take a long step down the totalitarian path. Perhaps such a step is desirable to cope with modern forms of lawlessness. But if it is taken, it should be the deliberate choice of the people through a constitutional amendment. Until the Fourth Amendment, which is closely allied with the Fifth, is rewritten, the person and the effects of the individual are beyond the reach of all government agencies until there are reasonable grounds to believe (probable cause) that a criminal venture has been launched or is about to be launched.
There have been powerful hydraulic pressures throughout our history that bear heavily on the Court to water down constitutional guarantees and give the police the upper hand. That hydraulic pressure has probably never been greater than it is today.
Yet if the individual is no longer to be sovereign, if the police can pick him up whenever they do not like the cut of his jib, if they can ‘seize’ and ‘search’ him in their discretion, we enter a new regime. The decision to enter it should be made only after a full debate by the people of this country.
[Linda Greenhouse has an excellent op-ed in today's New York Times.]
[I based my info on the New York Times, which was wrong: "An earlier version of this Op-Ed essay referred incorrectly to the provisions of the new Arizona immigration statute. The version of the bill signed by the governor no longer includes a section under which undocumented immigrants would be guilty of trespassing for being on Arizona soil."]