New immigration bill expected to become law

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PHOENIX -- What some describe as the strictest immigration bill ever introduced is going through the Arizona legislature.

If the bill becomes law, one of its provisions would allow local police to check a person's immigration status. Currently, that right is reserved for federal agents.

Arizona's largest police union, the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association (PLEA), has come out in support of the bill.

"It is something that will aid our officers and help our communities," said PLEA spokesman Ken Crane. "It mandates law enforcement agencies or entities from having overly restrictive policies that would run contrary to the law, or in effect handcuff the officers from being able to enforce the law."

Additionally, the bill states that officers cannot solely consider race, color or national origin when carrying out their duties.It also says that people living here illegally could face criminal charges and that blocking traffic to pick up passengers and bring them somewhere else for work would be a ticketable offense. Further, the bill would prohibit people from transporting or harboring illegal aliens.

Right now the bill is in the senate and is expected to pass. It will then go to the governor, and she too is expected to sign it.

"Everybody is kind of holding out, a last bit of hope for the Governor to veto it," said ACLU spokeswoman Alessandra Soler Meetze. "But that's highly unlikely."

Meetze, who has been opposed to the bill from the beginning, said she felt checking somebody's immigration status should not be added to a local officer's responsibility.

"The primary concern here is that we're going to have local police officers untrained in the complexities of federal immigration laws," she said.

Governor Brewer said she has heard of the bill, but did not want to talk about it until it was on her desk.