Arizona's SB 1070: a primer; or "What part of 'illegal' don't YOU understand?"

by Pollyanna Sunshine

While federal Judge Susan Bolton’s injunction on 7/29/10 has blocked implementation of a few of the most Draconian and egregiously unconstitutional provisions of SB 1070, effectively putting them on hold until the relevant cases can work their way through the legal system, the state has already appealed that decision and will be working overtime* to salvage those provisions and to enforce the many parts of the law the judge did not block. Moreover, many key provisions of SB 1070 were not enjoined and are now in effect, as of this morning.

The parts of the law that are now in full force create new categories of illegality and/or increase punishments not just for actual undocumented immigrants but for all Arizona residents or authorized visitors from elsewhere, for any of a very large number of things that were perfectly legal in Arizona yesterday and remain perfectly legal in most other US states.

So, for any of you folks out there who

  1. are thinking that Judge Bolton has saved the day, or
  2. don’t understand why anyone objects to such sensible immigration legislation and would like to see such laws implemented nationwide, or
  3. are planning to visit here or even drive across our highways or stop at one of our airports on your way to California or Vegas, or
  4. already live here,

here’s what you need to know about SB 1070, in its current partially-enjoined condition.

(For those of you who have absolutely no intention of ever setting foot here, please note that, if you pay federal taxes or depend on the federal budget in any way, all of these laws affect you quite directly,because they both mandate active involvement from the Department of Homeland Security and other federal agencies, and create more work for the already overburdened Justice and Labor departments. So this should really matter to you, even if you care only about your own pocketbook and personal safety and absolutely nothing about the bill of rights or human decency or loving thy neighbor or any of that other wishy washy Pollyanna bleeding heart liberal radical socialist commie pinko crap.)

  • It is now a state crime (ranging from class 1 misdemeanor to class 6 felony, depending on # of “aliens” involved) to “conceal, harbor or shield from detection,” “transport or move” or attempt to conceal, harbor, shield, or transport an “alien” if you “know or recklessly disregard the fact that the alien as come to, has entered or remains in the United States in violation of law.” This places a significantly greater burden on US citizens and legal residents to uphold federal and state immigration and labor laws than any thing this nation has seen since the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, which helped spark the Civil War by making white northern non-slaveholders individually and collectively responsible for enforcing the “property laws” of other states, regardless of their personal feelings or political opinions about those laws. That is where we are today, folks.
  • Judge Bolton did not enjoin any of the anti-day labor laws, which target all day laborers and persons who employ them, even if all parties involved are US citizens and/or have proper legal documentation to permit them to work in the US, and even if they follow the absolute letter of all federal employment, labor, and tax codes.
  • Judge Bolton also failed to enjoin the provisions of SB 1070 allowing any Joe Schmoe in the state to file an expensive and time-consuming lawsuit against any state or local government agency that s/he feels is not enforcing state and local immigration laws aggressively enough.*

So, let’s break it down for any of you slow learners who still aren’t entirely sure you understand what “illegal” means in Arizona, as of today, shall we?

ANY US CITIZEN OR LEGAL RESIDENT OR AUTHORIZED VISITOR IN THE STATE OF ARIZONA IS NOW IN VIOLATION OF THE LAW AND SUBJECT TO PROSECUTION TO THE FULLEST EXTENT OF THE LAW(which can include both hefty fines and actual jail time, not to mention all the inconvenience and legal fees even if your case is later tossed out by a judge or you are judged to be innocent by a jury of your peers) IF THEY:

  • allow a non-legal friend, neighbor, cousin, spouse, parent, acquaintance, or complete stranger to stay in their home or ride in their car or sleep in the basement of their church;
  • whisper into a restaurant kitchen or construction site that La Migra is pulling up in the front parking lot, just on the off chance that anyone wants to slip out the back door for a quick coffee or cigarette or ice water break or has already finished their work for the day and might find this a good time to mosey on home to the kids;
  • stop by the side of the road “to attempt to hire or hire and pick up passengers for work at a different location” IF they could conceivably be interpreted as “block[ing]] or imped[ing] the normal movement of traffic,” even if all parties involved are natural born US citizens or in possession of green cards.
    • This is a “crime” that half the homeowning white US citizens of the Phoenix metropolitan area commit at least 2-3 times per year, and which 99.9% of the contractors and subcontractors commit on a daily basis, especially in Maricopa County, where Sheriff Joe Arpaio has already done his very best to intimidate any private property owners or community organizations who allow people to seek work or hire day laborers into refusing to allow such activities on their presence, even if they know for certain that 99.9% of the day laborers there are natural born US citizens.
    • It is now also a crime to allow people to seek or hire day labor in your parking lot or vacant lot or church hall or front yard, in order to help them avoid impeding traffic. Unless you make a positive effort to verify the legal work status of every person there and send away anyone who cannot prove their right to work, you can, under SB 1070, be slapped with hefty fine if even a single undocumented person is looking for work on your property. If 10 or more undocumented laborers slip under your radar, you may now be convicted of a class 6 felony and put in jail.
    • It is also now a state offense for anyone without legal work documents to apply for, solicit, or perform work as an employee or independent contractor anywhere in the state. Okay, so they came here knowing that, that’s their problem. But the penalties for doing so in Arizona are now significantly higher than anything provided for under federal law.

It is still, however, as far as I can tell, NOT ILLEGAL for a US citizen to hire someone to do perform casual labor at their home or as part of the legal employer’s business without verifying their employment eligibility, except to whatever extent you are required to do under US employment, tax, or labor laws UNLESS in doing so you are violating US employment or labor or tax laws, or the new “harboring, transporting, etc.” laws. But I’m pretty sure if someone drops by your house or leaves a card in your screen door offering to trim your palm trees or mop your floors as an independent contractor, or if you pick up any legally authorized day laborer out in the Home Depot parking lot or anywhere else that is not blocking traffic and pay any taxes the law requires YOU to pay, you are fine.

Because if that were not the case no reasonably sane, self-interested gringo homeowner or contractor in the entire state would be supporting a bill that could land their own butts in jail or sock them with the kinds of fines people are now facing for many other equally peaceable and commonplace economic and social activities traditionally conducted by US citizens residing in Arizona and elsewhere in the nation. Day labor (both legal and illegal) is one of the major engines that has driven this state’s economy (which depends heavily on things like agriculture, construction, and shiny clean tourist accomodations) for a very long time, and it is still one of the only things that keeps our entire civilization from drying up, crumbling to pieces, and blowing away across the Sonoran desert. It also accounts for a goodly part of the low-priced food that is probably in your refrigerator right now, if you live anywhere in the US and like citrus or any of our other specialities.

Then again, this is a state and county where federal and state “human trafficking” laws have been interpreted in such a way as to arrest and prosecute individuals for trafficking themselves, so don’t quote me on that. I am not a lawyer and this primer is no substitute for consultation with a licensed attorney. In fact, Pollyanna strongly recommends that you put a good civil rights attorney on your speed dial if you have any intention of setting foot within Arizona’s borders in the foreseeable future.

The courts are still in the process of determining whether the other parts of the law can go forward under the consitution. But for now, thanks to Judge Butler,

  • it is still legal for all US citizens, legal residents, and properly visa-ed visitors to walk down the street without carrying a passport, Arizona drivers license, or other legal identification document issued by the US government or a state that requires immigration checks before issuing them.

However, if Governor Brewer wins her appeal, or the subsequent court proceedings allow the currently enjoined provisions of SB 1070 to go into effect, here’s what the law of this land in the Grand Canyon State will be:

  • any US born citizen or legal resident or properly visa-ed international student or tourist will be legally required to present identification upon request to any law enforcement official who believes that s/he has “reasonable suspicion” that you are not in this country legally. Since, according to Gov. Brewer, that doesn’t just mean brown-skinned people with Spanish accents, THIS MEANS YOU! (However, brown-skinned or dark-haired people, especially those of you with any kind of accent not normally used by white native-born US citizens residing in Arizona, or wearing any kind of clothing or having any other aspect of appearance sometimes associated with people from south of the US border, might want to be especially careful to keep your papers close at hand.

So, to all you residents of or properly authorized visitors to the Grand Canyon State, please make sure you keep your papers with you at all times. Especially if you happen to have kind of brown skin or dark hair, are speaking anything not immediately recognizable as standard American English without a Spanish or other foreign-sounding accent, are wearing huaraches, or are planning to do anything else “suspicious” looking. Because if the nice officer asks to see your papers, you better have them on hand unless you want to spend the rest of the day proving that you have a right to be walking around the United States.

  • If you cannot provide such documentation immediately, upon any request from an authorized law enforcement official, you can be detained, arrested, and even jailed until such a time as your immigration status can be verified by federal authorities.
  • In fact, if you are detained, state and local law enforcement officials are still legally obliged to hold you until the feds can show up and verify your status, even if your spouse or friend or lawyer is able to go home or to the hotel safe and or bank safety deposit box and bring back an entire state of documents.
  • Please note also that if your only proof of eligibility to walk around in the United States is a drivers’ license from a state that does not require verification of immigration status, you can also be detained until the feds get around to showing up and sorting it all out.

So suck it, New Mexicans, Utahns, Hawaiians, Hoosiers, Michiganders, Washingtonians, Nebraskans, Texans, and all you other folks from places that don’t crack down on illegal aliens quite as hard as we do. You elected those pansy-ass bleeding heart liberal governments with their wimpy girly laws, and you will have to pay the price. The next time you want to drive through here to California or visit the Grand Canyon or have a layover at the PHX airport, better bring your passport, because you are entering a police state run (although by no means exclusively populated) by idiots (with ties to the KKK and neo-Nazi organizations) who do not know the first thing about drafting coherent legislation that actually addresses the public policy goals they are targeting or can pass Constitutional muster, so you might as well get used to it, just like all us real Arizonans, passport-carrying tourists, and visitors from all of the other states that have the good sense to demand proof of eligibility to reside in the US before licensing you to drive a car or giving you some wimpy little plastic card that allows you to prove where you live so that you can cash checks or whatever.

And please don’t get too upset at the nice officers, okay? They are only doing their job as required by law, because if they don’t, that dude over there in the “What part of ‘illegal’ don’t you understand?” t-shirt is going to sue them, and no matter how bogus the whole thing is, they are going to have to do a lot of paperwork and the department is going to have to start paying lawyers, and that really, really annoys their bosses. Plus, they have to leave in 10 minutes to go on furlough, and there’s no money left in the budget for overtime.

But if you happen to get an officer who is less nice, or feeling kind of cranky that day, please for god’s sake do not start arguing about the Bill of Rights! And for the love of all that is good and holy, do not raise your hands or move too quickly while doing so, because even if you were doing absolutely nothing wrong before the officer stopped you, you may now be facing legally valid charges of disturbing the peace, resisting arrest, or assaulting an officer. You might just find yourself flat up against the surface of a pavement you could fry eggs on, with a baton or a gun at your neck, being handcuffed and thrown into the back of a squad car. If either you or the officer loses your cool, you could be beaten or shot or handcuffed to a chair or locked inside an inadequately ventilated space and not allowed to take your medication or get medical attention if you are ill or injured. Those things happen here all the time, even before SB 1070, especially in Maricopa County. However, if the officer starts it, you may take comfort in the fact that your widow/er or children or your own permanently disabled self may at some point in the next five or ten years get a nice financial settlement funded by taxpayer dollars.

If you are an innocent bystander when such a situation is going down, please be aware that there are also laws against interfering with the police in the course of their duties, and you are likely to be facing the same range of possible consequences as that moron who left his passport in the hotel safe or his AZ driver’s license at home.

But please, please, whatever you do, do not cancel your plans to visit or move to our fine state, where the fine people of Arizona are slashing prices and rolling out red carpets in the hopes of salvaging the two most crucial industries in this state: tourism, and new residential growth.

¡Bienvenidos a Arizona! Welcome to the Grand Canyon State! Have fun, and don’t forget to reapply sunscreen and drink about 4 times as much water as you normally would.

Is there any part of “illegal” that YOU still do not understand? If so, feel free to check the links below!

Note to armchair liberals in other states: the next time you are cackling over some clip on the Daily Show or Colbert Report in which presumably intelligent state officials or lawyers turn into incoherent morons when trying to explain how this law can possibly be enforced to the degree they must enforce if it they don’t want to be sued, without violating any federal anti-discrimination or due process laws, please keep in mind that many of them are well-intentioned folks just trying to do their job under legal conditions that even the most brilliant legal minds in the state and nation cannot agree on how to interpret. But feel free to go ahead and hate on Gov. Brewer and the legislature, because they’re the ones who wrote and passed this godawful unconstitutional incoherent unenforceable mess. (But most of us didn’t vote for any of those people, and nobody in this state voted for Jan Brewer to do anything more complicated or political than administer the elections system, at which she was actually rather competent.)

By the way, if you do happen to care about any of that Pollyanna liberal radical socialist crap like the Bill of Rights and not tearing away parents from their weeping US citizen children and hauling them away in handcuffs (then handing the kids a teddy bear and handing them over to somebody from the child protective services department, assuming anyone is still over there to answer the phone, which is actually rather unlikely), please get your lazy liberal butt out of that armchair–or at least make sure you have your telephone or internet-enabled computer close at hand–and DO SOMETHING. Because there are a lot of really good people working their asses off here to fight this madness, and they could use your help.

*This is all going to be extra super fun for all the state and local agencies that are presently barely able to keep the A/C on, and their employees, most of whom have for the past 18 months and will well into the foreseeable future be getting laid off, taking pay cuts, being forced to take mandatory furlough days, or being kindly asked to provide their own pens and legal pads and post-it notes. Not to mention how much fun it will be for all us AZ taxpayers who need to interact with all those agencies, which have already for over 2 years been cutting staff and hours and services. Take it from a former state university employee who is about to start teaching in a public high school and sending her kid off to public kindergarten, and who as a taxpaying citizen has recently interacted with the department of motor vehicles, the unemployment insurance bureau, public libraries, and several other state and local agencies: this state is currently running on shoestrings, spit, and prayer.

NB for non-Arizonans: Since most of the provisions of SB 1070 involve state and local governments handing people over to ICE and other federal agencies, please note that your own federal tax dollars will be funding enforcement of these new laws as well. Your tax dollars at work, mis amigos, courtesy of the great state of Arizona! Aren’t you glad we’re out here keeping the border safe for you? Oh, wait, sorry, I forgot, at least 30% of the border patrol officers are going to have to be recalled to Maricopa County, where they are needed to process those vicious criminals who want to trim my palm trees for the staggeringly low sum of $50 each. Whoops! Sorry! Come on, our legislators work only part time and earn only about $30k/year for doing their jobs, so they’ve all got day jobs, and aren’t exactly a brain trust of crack public policy or constitutional law experts. But Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin and some other people on my TV said they are doing a much better job of protecting our nation than the US Congress or any other state, so ya’ll should really all go copy us now, okay?

3 replies »

  1. Being in this or any other country in violation of their laws IS A CRIME, PERIOD. I do believe Mexico has much more severe laws in place than we and nobody decries those.
    We have to get rid of the 14th amendment (put in place to give former slaves citizenship) and take away the phenomenon of “Anchor Babies”.

    My wife is a Japanese national who became a citizen after going through the process, she is here LEGALLY, speaks English better than most Americans.

    And since when was Mexican a Race?

  2. why don’t they just all live with this author. He’s a bleeding heart for ILLEGAL’s.
    Key word is illegals.