by David Safier

Look, this is an important distinction. If SB1070 merely "allows" police officers to question people about immigration status, we most likely wouldn't have state and national protests over the law.

But SB1070 mandates that officers check immigration status whenever there is "reasonable suspicion" the person may be undocumented. That's one of the major complaints about the law.

Add the NY Times to those who got it wrong:

The disputed law, known as SB 1070, allows the police to check the documents of anyone they stop whom they suspect of being in the country illegally. [boldface added]

No. Not "allows." Mandates.

Here's the relevant passage from the law:

For any lawful stop, detention or arrest made by a law enforcement official or law enforcement agency . . . where reasonable suspicion exists that the person is an alien and is unlawfully present in the United States, a reasonable attempt shall be made, when practicable, to determine the immigration status of that person . . ." [boldface added]

Though a few exclusions are thrown in, the basis of the passage is that "a reasonable attempt shall be made," not "an officer is allowed to make a reasonable attempt." Huge difference.

LACK OF INFORMATION ALERT: I'm ignorant about this, so I would appreciate if someone could enlighten me. Is there any place in Arizona where a police officer currently is not allowed to make an attempt to determine someone's immigration status? I believe in some states, police are specifically prohibited from asking about immigration status, but I don't think that's true in Arizona.