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Arizona Turns Japanese

Well, not exactly but this story may hit home for some of the expatriates in Japan. Arizona’s new immigration law adds some punch to law enforcement and the State’s quest to crackdown on illegal immigration:

The law requires police to question people about their immigration status — including asking for identification — if they suspect someone is in the country illegally. It’s sparked fears among legal immigrants and U.S. citizens that they’ll be hassled by police just because they look Hispanic.

Republican Gov. Jan Brewer on Friday signed into law a bill that supporters said would take handcuffs off police in dealing with illegal immigration in Arizona, the nation’s busiest gateway for human and drug smuggling from Mexico and home to an estimated 460,000 illegal immigrants.

The White House response:

“Earlier Friday, President Barack Obama called the Arizona bill “misguided” and instructed the Justice Department to examine it to see if it’s legal. He also said the federal government must enact immigration reform at the national level — or leave the door open to “irresponsibility by others.”

The immigration debate in America has always been heated. American citizens complain that their State does not do enough to stop the wave of illegal immigrants, “some” businesses complain that a crackdown will hurt their bottom line and lead to price increases of certain goods and services, States complain that Washington is not doing enough while other believe that “illegals” are taking “our” jobs. During an election year, amnesty for illegal aliens is a very hot topic. As shown on the sign pictured above, some believe that amnesty will actually increase the number of folks illegally crossing the boarder. It’s also estimated that 25% of the prisoners locked up in the US are illegal immigrants. Californian officials have estimated that the net cost to taxpayers in order to provide government services to illegal immigrants approached $3 billion during a single fiscal year. What can be done?

In a nutshell:

Arizona’s immigration law, now considered the toughest in the nation, makes it a state crime to be in the country illegally and requires local police to enforce federal immigration laws. It will require anyone whom police suspect of being in the country illegally to produce “an alien registration document,” such as a green card or other proof of citizenship, such as a passport or Arizona driver’s license.

It also makes it illegal to impede the flow of traffic by picking up day laborers for work. A day laborer who gets picked up for work, and traffic is impeded in the process, would also be committing a criminal act.

The law goes into effect 90 days after the current legislative session ends, likely in early May.

Did Arizona have any other choice? Did the Department of Homeland Security let one slip away or will the State of Arizona add some punch to the U.S. Immigration and Customs, the Drug Enforcement Agency and other agencies trusted with the enforcement of laws? Will it lead to a crackdown on illegal immigrants and goods flowing across the U.S. – Mexico boarder? Will the illegal immigrants in Arizona now move on to other states? Is Arizona doing the right thing?

Do you wonder how this differs from what the Japanese police are allowed to do when “searching” for illegal immigrants? Is Arizona’s law exactly what most expatriates in Japan complain about when they find that they are the one being stopped, questioned and asked to show their passport (usually), alien registration form or other form of identification?

I have been stopped more than a few times in Osaka and Tokyo by the police and asked to provide my passport (which I do not carry since I have other forms of identification). I typically refused (depending on my mood) and ask why I am being stopped and questioned and then point to a Japanese National. I then tell the policeman that the person I’m pointing to looks suspicious to me and needs to be questioned. I doubt that would work in Arizona since “crackdown” can take on a whole new meaning!

Click here for the rest of the story and see below for more on Arizona’s new law.


• Prohibits state, city or county officials from limiting or restricting “the enforcement of federal immigration laws to less than the full extent permitted by federal law” and allows an Arizona resident to sue an official or agency that adopts or implements a policy that does so. The bill contains a “loser pays” provision meant to deter frivolous lawsuits.

• Requires law enforcement to make a reasonable attempt “when practicable” to determine the immigration status of a person if reasonable suspicion exists that the person is in the U.S. illegally. Officers do not have to do so “if the determination may hinder or obstruct an investigation.”

• Makes it a state crime to be an illegal immigrant by creating a state charge of “willful failure to complete or carry an alien-registration document.”

• Makes it a crime for illegal immigrants to work or solicit work in Arizona.

• Makes it a crime to pick up a day laborer for work if the vehicle impedes traffic and also makes a day laborer subject to criminal charges if he or she is picked up and the vehicle involved impedes traffic.

• Makes it a crime to conceal, harbor or shield an illegal immigrant if the person knows or recklessly disregards the immigrant’s legal status. It does create a legal defense for someone providing emergency, public-safety or public-health services to illegal immigrants.

• Allows law-enforcement officials to arrest a person without a warrant if they have probable cause to believe the person has committed a public offense that makes him or her removable from the U.S.

• Requires employers to keep E-Verify records of employees’ eligibility.

• Reiterates Arizona’s intent to not comply with the Real ID Act of 2005, including the use of a radio-frequency ID chip.

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