When Arizona passed legislation in 2010 cracking down on illegal immigration in its state and giving state law enforcement the police powers to detain and question suspected illegal immigrants and require legal immigrants to carry their immigration status papers with them, it erupted a host of other states such as Georgia, Indiana, South Carolina, Utah and Alabama to pass similar legislation. It also brought a pouring of outrage from civil rights and other groups against Arizona's measures to make it more difficult for illegal immigrants to work and live in the state. Proponents of the new Arizona law S.B. 1070, as amended by H.B. 2162, were hopeful that it would cut down and save the state millions of dollars in costs of government health care and education benefits as well as prison costs by reducing the number of illegal immigrants in the state.
Challenges to the New Arizona Immigration Law
The Obama Administration challenged Arizona's immigration law and won an order blocking the key provisions in the District and Appeals Courts. Arizona has asked the United States Supreme Court to hear their appeal of these decisions, and the Court has agreed to hear the case in 2012. Justice Elena Kagan has recused herself from the Court's decision to take the case and most likely will not be part of the hearing or final ruling. The Justice Department has also sued to block enforcement in other states, and immigrant groups have also sued to stop the enforcement as well. The Obama Administration's position is that only the federal government has the jurisdiction to set immigration policies and that states that pass laws that conflict with the federal government's immigration policy cannot enforce their own laws.
While border states like Arizona do have legitimate concerns about illegal drugs and drug cartel related crimes spilling over into the state and creating homeland security issues, ordinary law abiding legal resident aliens and innocent U.S. citizens may be caught up in the unfortunate consequences of the frustrations between local law enforcement and U.S. Border Patrols in attempting to enforce against serious border crimes such as gun running, murder, drug trafficking, human trafficking and prevention of illegal immigration.
Fines and Penalties
If you are found guilty of breaking the Arizona law and have been convicted of entering the U.S. illegally, whether or not you are found guilty of human trafficking, you are subject to paying a minimum $500 for the first violation or at least $1,000 for any subsequent violations and/or jail time of a minimum six months and will be turned over to federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency or U.S. Border Patrol for further processing and/or deportation. If you are convicted of human trafficking, you may convicted of a class 1 misdemeanor and subject to a minimum fine of $1,000, unless there are 10 or more illegal aliens, then you may be convicted of a class 6 felony, with a fine of at least $1,000 for each alien involved and/or subject to jail time of a minimum six months as well as being turned over to the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency or U.S. Border Patrol.
If you have been stopped or questioned by Arizona police and accused of committing a crime while you are living here in the United States as a legal resident or in the process of obtaining a green card, you will need the advice of a Arizona criminal defense attorney to defend you. The Arizona attorney can challenge the arrest as unlawful and unconstitutional because it interferes with your civil rights and/or may be in violation of the 14th Amendment equal protection guarantee and prohibition against unreasonable seizures and may assert other legal defenses depending on the type of crime you are accused of to get the case dropped and the charges dismissed.