PHOENIX - Gov. Jan Brewer scheduled a 1:30 p.m. (3:30 CT, 4:30 ET) press conference at a state-owned auditorium about a mile from the Capitol. The location not only provide space for the local and national media interested in the issue but also provides some separation from the approximately 2,000 people who have gathered in the mall between the House and Senate.
Most of them appear to be high school or college students.
Hispanic community leader Elias Bermudez said he is urging calm no matter what the governor does.
There is a lot of political pressure on Brewer to sign the controversial measure which would give police new powers to stop and arrest illegal immigrants.
All three of her Republican foes in the gubernatorial primary are on record urging a signature. And virtually all Republicans in the Legislature voted for the legislation.
If she does, a lawsuit is a virtual certainty, with groups ranging from the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund to the American Civil Liberties Union promising to challenge the measure.
The most controversial part of the measure could amount to a requirement to carry identification or risk being detained, at least temporarily. It says that when police officers make an official contact with anyone, a "reasonable attempt shall be made, when practicable, to determine the immigration status of the person.''
Sen. Russell Pearce, R-Mesa, said the language does not give officers absolute authority to stop anyone. He pointed to language saying that the must be "reasonable suspicion'' that the person is in this country illegally.
The law prohibits race or ethnicity from being the sole factor in reaching that conclusion. But it permits those being used as one factor.
Pearce, the architect of the measure, said that is justified because virtually all of the illegal immigrants in this state are from Mexico or points south.
The measure also makes it illegal for cities to have any policy that prohibits its police officers from enforcing federal immigration laws.
Other provisions include:
- Making it a state crime to be in this country in violation of federal immigration laws;
- Allowing people to be charged with harboring or transporting illegal immigrants;
- Letting police arrest those who stop in traffic to pick up day laborers.
There also have been calls for businesses to boycott the state if Brewer signs the legislation