Police readiness to enforce SB 1070 reviewed

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By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas

PHOENIX -- If the U.S. Supreme Court justices uphold Senate Bill 1070, it will fall on Arizona police departments to enforce the controversial illegal immigration law. But that mandate could become more complicated than many realize.

"What we will find, I would predict, is a patchwork of enforcement," said Scott Decker with Arizona State University's School of Criminology and Criminal Justice.

Decker spent three years researching how local police agencies are handling the challenges of immigration.

"Regardless of these legislative acts and judicial responses, the police are the ones at the end of the day that have to balance those things and decide in the heat of the moment, on the street, all alone at night, how do I enforce this law?" Decker said.

Gov. Jan Brewer believes the bill isn't ambiguous.

"I believe we have very professional law enforcement officers on the ground and very professional law enforcement administrators and they have been well trained and to have academic come forward and be the expert and claim that they're not professional and they aren't able to do their job it's absolutely sorry to hear someone speak like about law enforcement," Brewer said.

Anticipating a decision any day now, Brewer issued an executive order to ensure law enforcement are ready by redistributing a police training video.

Brewer explained why she issued the executive order during the taping of 3TV's "Politics Unplugged."

"I wanted them to have a refresh of exactly what it is and make them totally aware that we don't want any racism, we don't want any types of charges brought forward," she said.

As for the president's announcement regarding illegal immigrants who arrived in the United States as children, Brewer said, "We will move forward and all I can say is Mr. President, you know, secure our borders and then maybe we can all come together and resolve this for everybody."

Decker wonders if SB 1070 moves forward, what could be next?

"If we want 1070 to allow local law enforcement expanded rights to enforce federal laws, that it may well be that local law enforcement might next push to enforce the laws about the tax code and ask not to see your ID card but to see your tax return," he said.

As for the courts' prosecution of SB 1070 violations, the county attorney refuses to engage in racial profiling cases.

"This office will not accept cases where someone's immigration status was investigated as a consequence of them being a victim of a crime or them being a witness to a crime and then coming into contact with law enforcement," County Attorney Bill Montgomery said. "That's not the goal of this and I won't allow that circumstance to develop."

The Supreme Court has indicated it will reach a decision on SB 1070 this month.