Arizona governor signs nation's toughest immigration enforcement bill
By The Associated Press
April 23, 2010, 1:49PM
PHOENIX -- Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed into law the nation's toughest legislation against illegal immigration Friday, a sweeping measure that supporters said would take handcuffs off police but which President Barack Obama said could violate people's civil rights.
The bill, sent to the Republican governor by the GOP-led Legislature, would make it a crime under state law to be in the country illegally. It would also require local police officers to question people about their immigration status if there is reason to suspect they are illegal immigrants.
Brewer, who faces a tough election battle and growing anger in the state over illegal immigrants, said the law "protects every Arizona citizen."
"We in Arizona have been more than patient waiting for Washington to act," Brewer said after signing the law. "But decades of inaction and misguided policy have created a dangerous and unacceptable situation."
Obama said in Washington that he's instructed the Justice Department to examine the Arizona bill to see if it's legal, and said the federal government must enact immigration reform at the national level -- or leave the door open to "irresponsibility by others."
"That includes, for example, the recent efforts in Arizona, which threaten to undermine basic notions of fairness that we cherish as Americans, as well as the trust between police and their communities that is so crucial to keeping us safe," Obama said.
Brewer was under intense pressure from anti-illegal immigration groups and lawmakers in her own party to sign the bill, but has given no indication what she will do.
Hundreds of protesters gathered at the State Capitol complex Friday calling on Brewer to veto the legislation.
Demonstrators have been camped outside the Capitol since the measure passed out of the Legislature on Monday. Their numbers have grown steadily throughout the week, with buses bringing protesters from as far away as Los Angeles.
About a dozen supporters of the measure also gathered.
--The Associated Press