In April, 2010, Arizona passed one of the toughest immigration laws in the country. The law requires immigrants to carry their alien registration documents with them at all times, and permits police to question people if a police officer believes that they are in the United States illegally. The law also targets businesses that hire immigrant laborers or knowingly transport them. In this respect, the law is similar to a law enacted by the City of Hazleton, Pennsylvania, which was ultimately determined to be unconstitutional.
Since its passage, the law has sparked controversy throughout the United States. Many opponents of the law are concerned that it will promote racial profiling, arguing that police officers lack the training necessary to look past anything other than race to determine who may be in violation of the law. Opponents of the law also point to the fact that immigration is traditionally a power of the federal government, and not of the State, and therfore argue that Arizona’s law violates the United States Constitution. Proponents of the law claim that the federal government is not doing enough to stop illegal immigration, and that the States are therfore permitted to pass such a law. Similar laws are being proposed in Michigan and Oklahoma.
Numerous groups have protested the Arizona immigration law since it was enacted. Two cities in Arizona, Tucson and Flagstaff, have threatened lawsuits concerning the law. The mayor of Phoenix, Arizona’s largest city, called it “embarrassing”. Civil rights groups have called for a boycott of the state. The Major League Baseball Players Association has taken a stand against the law, leading to questions of the economic impact of a boycott, as many clubs conduct spring training in Arizona cities, resulting in millions of tourism dollars being spent in the state each year. Amidst threats of a boycott of his company’s product, the founder of Arizona Iced Tea issued a statement tracing the origins of the company to New York, noting that the company’s headquarters remain on Long Island.
Whether the law is ultimately determined to be Constitutional remains to be seen. Until such a decision is made , the law and the controversy it has sparked may have unintended economic effects on the State of Arizona, should the threatened boycotts gain steam.