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Arizona Legislature Considers New Trespassing Laws Against Illegal Aliens

PHOENIX — The Arizona state House is considering a proposal to criminalize illegal immigrants as trespassers if police have reasonable suspicion to check a person’s immigration status and find it lacking.

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The tough new proposal is already being challenged for its constitutionality. Opponents cite a 2005 ruling by a New Hampshire judge who dismissed trespassing charges against illegal immigrants, arguing police chiefs in two communities did not have the jurisdiction to apply state laws to a federal issue.

Advocates for immigrant rights also say they fear it could lead to racial profiling that would target Latinos living legally in the state.

"It’s almost impossible for it to be applied without relying on racial profiling and without committing egregious errors," said Jennifer Allen, director of the Border Action Network, an immigrant rights group based in southern Arizona.

But supporters say the measure wouldn’t encourage racial profiling because officers would still need probable cause to believe that people violated the law before they could arrest them.

Some of Arizona’s police forces have already established rules for enforcing federal immigration laws, and say it’s up to them to make up for inadequate federal border efforts.

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