Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed a new law Friday that clarifies certain provisions of the controversial illegal immigrant law she signed April 23 that drew national scorn from even Republicans and threats of economic boycotts by Latino advocates.
Rather than asking a suspected illegal immigrant on contact by police, the revision requires law enforcement to question the person on other law infractions before seeking documentation the person is in the state legally.
"These new statements make it crystal clear and undeniable that racial profiling is illegal, and will not be tolerated in Arizona," she said in a statement.
The changes include one strengthening restrictions against using race or ethnicity as the basis for questioning by police and inserts those same restrictions in other parts of the law. Another change expands possible state and federal violation to local civil ordinances that can trigger questioning on immigration status.
Left unchanged is making it a crime to be in the state illegally, a provision that preempts the federal government.
While the added legislation may reduce the chances of racial profiling, it does not eliminate the burden of people questioned from producing legal papers which opponents claim few people legally in the country do.
Stephen Montoya, a Phoenix lawyer representing a police officer whose lawsuit was one of three filed Thursday to challenge the law, told the Arizona Republic the changes wouldn't derail the lawsuit because the state is still unconstitutionally trying to regulate immigration, a federal responsibility. He agreed the chances of racial profiling might be reduced.
Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Phoenix, said the new wording regarding local civil ordinances could spur complaints of racial profiling based on complaints about cars parked on lawns and debris in yards.
Both the law and the changes to it will take effect July 29 unless blocked by a court or referendum filing.
Lawmakers approved the follow-on bill several hours before ending their 2010 session.
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