Holder's 'In the Dark' Criticism of Immigration Law
On May 13, Attorney General Eric Holder, who had been critical of the new Arizona immigration law, testified that he had based his comments on newspaper and television accounts but had not read the by then more than two-week-old statute:
Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., who has been critical of Arizona's new immigration law, said Thursday he hasn't yet read the law and is going by what he's read in newspapers or seen on television.
Mr. Holder is conducting a review of the law, at President Obama's request, to see if the federal government should challenge it in court. He said he expects he will read the law by the time his staff briefs him on their conclusions.
"I've just expressed concerns on the basis of what I've heard about the law. But I'm not in a position to say at this point, not having read the law, not having had the chance to interact with people are doing the review, exactly what my position is," Mr. Holder told the House Judiciary Committee. (emphasis added)
The Arizona statute was signed by the governor on April 23 and amended on April 30 by HB 2162 to remove ambiguities relating to when people can be stopped and identification sought. It was also clarified to ease concerns about profiling based on race, color, or national origin.
The partial text of the law as amended is provided in the previous link, along with links to the remaining parts. Section 11-1051 B, about which there has been much erroneously focused anger is below. (Words deleted are indicated by strike-throughs and words added are in bold:
For any lawful contact stop, detention or arrest made by a law enforcement official or a law enforcement agency of this state or a law enforcement official or a law enforcement agency of a county, city, town or other political subdivision of this state in the enforcement of any other law or ordinance of a county, city or town or this state where reasonable suspicion exists that the person is an alien who and is unlawfully present in the United States, a reasonable attempt shall be made, when practicable, to determine the immigration status of the person, except if the determination may hinder or obstruct an investigation. Any person who is arrested shall have the person’s immigration status determined before the person is released. The person’s immigration status shall be verified with the federal government pursuant to 8 United States code section 1373(c). A law enforcement official or agency of this state or a county, city, town or other political subdivision of this state may not solely consider race, color or national origin in implementing the requirements of this subsection except to the extent permitted by the United States or Arizona Constitution. A person is presumed to not be an alien who is unlawfully present in the United States if the person provides to the law enforcement officer or agency any of the following:
1. A valid Arizona driver license.
2. A valid Arizona nonoperating identification license.
3. A valid tribal enrollment card or other form of tribal identification.
4. If the entity requires proof of legal presence in the United States before issuance, any valid United States federal, state or local government issued identification.
On May 10:
Attorney General Holder, reflecting similar comments from the president, worried that the law would create "a slippery slope where people will be picked on because of how they look as opposed to what they have done."