Napolitano vetoes bill on enforcing immigration
April 28, 2008 - 10:35PM
PHOENIX - Gov. Janet Napolitano vetoed legislation Monday to require police departments and sheriff's deputies to do more to crack down on illegal immigration despite its bipartisan support. On one hand, Napolitano said HB 2807 is unnecessary because nothing in state law precludes local police agencies from entering into agreements with the federal government to have their officers certified to stop, question and detain people not in this country legally. She said the only thing they need is the proper federal training. "Many of these have already entered into these agreements on a voluntary basis,'' the governor wrote. "A legislative mandate to that effect is unnecessary." She also said the legislation could end up being a $100 million drain on the already overtapped state treasury. The measure mandated that police agencies have some sort of program to deal with violations of federal immigration laws...
Prezelski said he believes Napolitano's real reason for vetoing the bill had less to do with what it says and more to do with the politics surrounding the whole issue of illegal immigration and the role of local police agencies. "I don't think there was any problem with the bill legally, any problem with what the bill said in black and white,'' he said. But Prezelski said there were "larger political implications'' at hand. "It's happening in the context of what (Sheriff) Joe Arpaio is doing in Maricopa County,'' he said. The sheriff, who has had many of his officers certified to enforce immigration laws, has done a series of "sweeps'' of certain neighborhoods, looking for minor traffic violations as an excuse to pull people over and question them about whether they are in this country legally. In some circumstances that has occurred over the objections of officials of the cities where he is operating. Napolitano has repeatedly refused to take a public position on whether she believes the sweeps are legal or even good public policy. But Prezelski said this may be her way of expressing her concern. "Maybe this was an opportunity to say, 'No, this is not a local matter,'" he said. The activities of Arpaio clearly were on the minds of Hispanic activists who urged Napolitano to veto the legislation. "Racial profiling and targeting a sector of the population based on race, color of skin and national origin will only multiply as has been demonstrated in the Maricopa County Sheriff Office's operations,'' officers of Somos America wrote to the governor last week. The group, whose name translates as "We Are America,'' said the legislation "will amplify sweeps of this style, violate (individuals') civil liberties and often result in costly litigation.''