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As the U.S. Democrats push for immigration reform laws that recognize the contribution of the many non-citizens residing within U.S. borders, border states are taking matters into their own hands. Arizona’s newly passed legislation originally required that police officers question individuals who they believe may be in the country illegally. A Phoenix police officer effectively sued in response, saying that the new law would require him to stop school children in the area he patrols during the day to inquire about their citizenship. Arizona state lawmakers seemingly predicted resistance from some police precincts: the law includes a clause that enables the state to sue police departments that do not enforce the new mandate. The law was amended on May 1 to only allow questioning of people who police stop, detain or arrest, but civil rights advocates say that police can and have invented all kinds of reasons for stopping people they want to question. President Barack Obama has voiced concern and is exploring strategies to challenge Arizona’s new legislation.

In the meantime, some policymakers in Utah are hoping to implement similar legislation. Although Utah lawmakers may have been entertaining such legislation before Arizona established its new law, they have certainly been influenced by the dramatic actions of their neighboring state. Read the rest of this entry »