YUMA, Ariz. – Civil rights groups agreed Thursday to end their challenge of Arizona’s immigration law, SB 1070. The settlement reached still allows officers to check the immigration status of those suspected of being an undocumented immigrant by asking for identification when stopping the individual for an initial traffic or law-related reason.
Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s office issued the enforcement guidelines, requiring officers to document the reasons for their suspicion that a particular person is in the country illegally. However, had the settlement not been reached, law enforcement officers may have been able to stop anyone they suspect to be an undocumented immigrant—without an initial reason.
“It’s not practical for us just to drive down the street and say, ‘Oh, I think you’re illegal so we’re just gonna pull you over,'” stresses Sgt. Lori Franklin of the Yuma Police Department. “We’re very busy. We have a lot of calls for service that come in and our patrol officers are call to call to call. So it’s not just going to be where we say ‘Okay, you look illegal so we’re going to pull you over for that.’ We’ve got other things to do, so as far as is this going to make a big impact if that were to happen, I don’t think it’d make an impact at all.”
Under the updated guidelines, officers must document the reasons they suspect a particular person is in the country illegally. However, officers would have the discretion not to check people’s immigration status, and local law enforcement will be trained on the updated law.
“Any time all the laws are updated all the officers have to sit down and go through the updates,” shares Sgt. Franklin. “So every time something changes we get retrained on it.”
So, when will someone be required so show proof of identification? The Yuma Police Department says that they identify suspects only when it is necessary.
“If we’re out with somebody who we suspect has broken the law then we’re looking for identification to identify them,” explains Sgt. Franklin. “If they don’t have proper identification then you know, ‘Are you legal or are you not legal?'”
The final terms of the settlement are currently pending court approval.