SB1070 Update: What about “Shall” don’t you understand? (sigh)

by David Safier

No, SB1070 doesn't "allow" police officers to ask people if they are in the U.S. legally. If officers have reasonable suspicion, they're obligated to ask for documentation. That's what the word "shall" means. It's an imperative.

But I'm still seeing the word "allow."

Here it is in a silly column in Time:

But since SB1070, Arizona's law allowing cops to ask people to show their citizenship papers, is making us all pick sides . . .

And here it is in a not-silly HuffPo column opposing the law, written by Rep. Michael Honda, the chairman of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, and Rosario Dawson, an actress and co-founder of Voto Latino. Both of them should know better.

Much has been said about Arizona's Senate Bill 1070, allowing state law enforcement officials to stop, question, detain and report individuals based on suspicion of undocumented status.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but police officers have always been "allowed" to ask about immigration status. Right?

I'm not picking nits here. Very possibly the worst part of the law is that it takes away an officer's discretion at the time of a stop or detention. The officer is obligated to follow up on "reasonable suspicion" about someone's immigration status, which will usually begin with a look at someone's skin color and facial characteristics.

Anyone who gets that wrong minimizes the destructiveness of the law.

0 responses to “SB1070 Update: What about “Shall” don’t you understand? (sigh)

  1. No, it does not take away the officer’s discretion at the time of a stop or detention. The officer is to decide if their is reasonable suspicion. If there is then he is to ask about their immigration status. Some examples of reasonable suspicion that might be an indication that they are illegal or have done something illegal: