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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, April 30, 2010 - Volume 38 Issue 18
'I won't enforce the immigration law,' says Arizona sheriff
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'I won't enforce the immigration law,' says Arizona sheriff

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The sheriff of Pima County, Arizona will not enforce his state's controversial new immigration law.

Sheriff Clarence Dupnik told reporters on April 28 that the law could not be enforced, and he would not even try to do so.

'We've been asked to support this law. We don't need it and I won't do it,' he said.

SB 1070, widely known as the "show me your papers" law, requires Arizona law enforcement officers to stop anyone they suspect of being an undocumented immigrant and demand proof they are in Arizona legally.

Opponents of the law have argued that it mandates racial profiling, and Dupnik agrees.

"I think the law is divisive," he said. "It's stupid, and it's racist. It's a national embarrassment."

If he were Hispanic, "I would feel angry and humiliated," Dupnik said.

Dupnik said the law was fueled by "an incredible amount of hostility, anger and cynicism."

"I don't like what's going on in this country," he added.

President Obama has called the new law "polarizing," and hinted the federal Justice Department may raise legal objections to it.

Dupnik began his law enforcement career in 1958 with the Tucson Police Department.

He told reporters he is a long-time observer of the border and said the state does not need to get involved in immigration enforcement because federal law already requires the Border Patrol to do that.

Dupnik also said the law puts his deputies in a double bind. They may be subject to federal civil rights suits if they do enforce the law, and "they can sue you if you don't enforce the law."

He said neither the jail nor the Pima County Attorney's Office has the capacity to handle an influx of arrestees whose only crime is being in Arizona without proper documentation.

Dupnik said his deputies will not look for excuses to stop people who may be in Arizona illegally simply because they commit minor offenses like traffic infractions.

When deputies do make a stop, Dupnik said, "We will look at the totality of the circumstances. The Border Patrol will take them if in fact they are illegal."

Dupnik said his officers will continue to jail any undocumented immigrants suspected of other crimes. About 200 of the Pima County jail's daily population is comprised of undocumented immigrants charged with felonies such as murder, he said.

Pima County includes the city of Tucson, where most of its population of 844,000 is concentrated. Approximately 70% of the county's people are white, and nearly 30% are Latino.

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