The bill makes it a state crime for immigrants not to carry authorization papers, requires the police “when practicable” to check the immigration status of people they reasonably suspect are in the country illegally and allows people to sue cities and counties if the law is not being enforced.
Those for the bill are obviously concerned with drug and human-trafficking related crime that is associated with some illegal immigration. Recent drug wars in Mexico-side border towns, and the murder of an Arizona rancher that was believed to be killed by someone crossing the border illegally brought this issue to the forefront for Arizona government. It is understandable that the people of Arizona and their leaders would be concerned about this issue.
On the other hand, those against the bill oppose the extreme nature of the enforcement it authorizes (and even requires, under penalty of lawsuit). Apparently, under this new law, immigrants are required to carry their authorization documents at all times. Additionally, police officers are required to demand to see documents from anyone they suspect is an illegal immigrant.
So, in other words, if a police officer sees someone who looks like an illegal immigrant (and keep in mind they look very similar to legal immigrants and naturalized citizens), they can demand to see their papers. If such papers are not produced, the suspected illegal immigrant can be jailed and/or fined. Essentially, the law allows for any Hispanic (or other nationality or ethnicity) to become a suspect.
Let me remind you, in considering all of this, of the Bible’s definition of hospitality:
When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.
That, of course, sounds an awful lot like Jesus’ “Golden Rule,” and for good reason–God has not changed His mind. We are to treat other people the way that we would want to be treated, even if–especially if–they are strangers in our land.
That does not mean that illegal immigration is not and should not be illegal (that is another matter for another time). But, it does mean that, as Christians, our efforts to enforce the law must not conflict with God’s law of loving others as we love ourselves. And I certainly would not like a law that might encourage officers to stop and interrogate me just because I fit the stereotypical description of an illegal immigrant.
Will this law definitely encourage racial profiling? I don’t know. But, we should at least reflect a little before we decide to voice our approval over such a measure. “Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves.” [Romans 14:22]