I have stayed out of the Arizona immigration law argument so far because while I understand the frustration of Arizonans to the lack of federal enforcement, I think the law they enacted is actually unnecessary.
Many of you know that I spent 7 years in the 1970s working for two California police agencies. What the Arizona law proposes is already done every day by officers in California. The only thing California law lacks that the Arizona law has is that Arizona has taken the federal law (almost word for word) and said the state can enforce violations of immigration law.
During my time in law enforcement in California I, and all of my fellow officers, routinely questioned people, mostly non-English speaking Hispanics without proper identification, about their legal status. In most cases they were illegal aliens.
When we called federal immigration officials to report the violations and have them take action we would be told: "Get a good address and we'll follow up." Yeah, right. Never happened and immigration enforcement by the federal government has beeen, and still is even in the wake of 9/11, a serious joke. Some times we were called to 'arrest' illegals because their employers wanted an easy way to get rid of them. We sympathized with the illegals to an extent and despised the employers, but still there was no enforcement either on the illegal or the company that hired them.
Last Monday, my USS Cogswell Association voted to hold our next reunion in Tucson, Arizona. The idea of boycotting a State because of a law someone doesn't agree with is perfectly legal, but then people should be free to start boycotts for other issues in other States. Gay Marriage comes to mind, legalized marijuana would be another, name your poison and groups everywhere could find reasons to boycott just about anywhere. We all make decisions to boycott or not to boycott businesses or events (I boycott Barry Manilow every chance I get), but when making a decision to lead a more public boycott people should at least be informed.
Below is a copy of current California law as it affects police officers and illegal immigrants, please note that it includes the same, or nearly the same "profiling" language that the Arizona law does and no one has yet suggested boycotting California:
California Penal Code Section 834b
(a) Every law enforcement agency in California shall fully
cooperate with the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service regarding any person who is arrested if he or she is suspected of being present in the United States in violation of federal immigration laws.
(b) With respect to any such person who is arrested, and suspected of being present in the United States in violation of federal immigration laws, every law enforcement agency shall do the following:
(1) Attempt to verify the legal status of such person as a citizen of the United States, an alien lawfully admitted as a permanent resident, an alien lawfully admitted for a temporary period of time or as an alien who is present in the United States in violation of immigration laws. The verification process may include, but shall not be limited to, questioning the person regarding his or her date and
place of birth, and entry into the United States, and demanding documentation to indicate his or her legal status.
(2) Notify the person of his or her apparent status as an alien who is present in the United States in violation of federal immigration laws and inform him or her that, apart from any criminal justice proceedings, he or she must either obtain legal status or leave the United States.
(3) Notify the Attorney General of California and the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service of the apparent illegal status and provide any additional information that may be requested by any other public entity.
(c) Any legislative, administrative, or other action by a city, county, or other legally authorized local governmental entity with jurisdictional boundaries, or by a law enforcement agency, to prevent or limit the cooperation required by subdivision (a) is expressly
The L.A. County Council, which voted to boycott Arizona, might want to note that they are in violation of the last section of that law.
And here is a dated legal argument on the California law. Here is a pertinent excerpt from that discussion:
"4. California AG Opinion 01-213 (11/16/2001): While California’s Penal Code Section 843b’s mandate that local officers inquire into immigration status has been enjoined, officers can still voluntarily make the inquiry. A local law enforcement officer during detention of Spanish speaking person for otherwise valid purposes may question the person as to immigration status, but may not question status solely because the individual speaks a non-English language. Local officers may continue investigation into a person’s immigration status prior to arraignment on state charges. In footnote 4, the Opinion indicates “Civil violations of immigration law are not cognizable” under a formula in Pen. Code s. 836, sub. (a), (a)(1), which allows California peace officers to arrest either in obedience to a warrant or without a warrant where the officer has probable cause to believe that a public offense has been committed in the officer’s presence."