Ari­zona braces for law’s first day

Protests planned, space made in out­door jail in readi­ness for thurs­day

Austin American-Statesman - - WEDNESDAY BRIEFING -

PHOENIX — The sher­iff of Ari­zona’s most pop­u­lous county is mak­ing room in a vast out­door jail and is de­ter­mined to round up il­le­gal im­mi­grants to fill it. Po­lice from the U.S.-Mex­ico border to the Grand Canyon are get­ting last-minute train­ing. And protests are planned through­out Phoenix.

Ari­zona’s new im­mi­gra­tion law takes ef­fect Thurs­day, cre­at­ing a po­ten­tially volatile mix of po­lice, il­le­gal im­mi­grants and thou­sands of ac­tivists, many plan­ning to show up with­out iden­ti­fi­ca­tion as a show of sol­i­dar­ity.

At least one group plans to block ac­cess to fed­eral of­fices, dar­ing of­fi­cers to ask them their im­mi­gra­tion sta­tus.

“Our mes­sage for that day is: ‘Don’t com­ply, don’t buy,’ ” said ac­tivist Liz Houri­can, whose group, CodePink, plans to block the drive­way for im­mi­gra­tion of­fices in down­town Phoenix.

As both sides pre­pare, a fed­eral judge is de­cid­ing whether to step in and block the law. It re­quires of­fi­cers en­forc­ing other laws to check a per­son’s im­mi­gra­tion sta­tus if they sus­pect the per­son is in the coun­try il­le­gally. It also bans il­le­gal im­mi­grants from so­lic­it­ing work in a pub­lic place.

Po­lice across the state scram­bled Tues­day to train of­fi­cers, in­clud­ing on how to avoid racial pro­fil­ing, and plan for a po­ten­tial in­flux of de­tainees.

The hard­est-line ap­proach is ex­pected in the Phoenix area, where Mari­copa County Sher­iff Joe Ar­paio plans his 17th crime and im­mi­gra­tion sweep. He plans to hold the sweep, re­gard­less of any rul­ing by U.S. District Judge Su­san Bolton.

Ar­paio, known for his tough stance against il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion, plans to send about 200 deputies and vol­un­teers out, look­ing for traf­fic vi­o­la­tors, peo­ple wanted on crim­i­nal war­rants and oth­ers. He’s used that tac­tic be­fore to ar­rest dozens of peo­ple, many of them il­le­gal im­mi­grants.

“We don’t wait. We just do it,” he said. “If there’s a new law out, we’re go­ing to en­force it.”

He said that the space he made in the com­plex of mil­i­tary sur­plus tents can han­dle 100 peo­ple and that he will find room for more if nec­es­sary.

Else­where in the state, po­lice of­fi­cials said they didn’t ex­pect any dra­matic events. They were busy wrap­ping up train­ing ses­sions this week, with some agen­cies say­ing that un­trained of­fi­cers will not be al­lowed on the streets.

Many of the state’s 15,000 po­lice of­fi­cers have been watch­ing a DVD re­leased this month that says signs that might in­di­cate a per­son is an il­le­gal im­mi­grant are speak­ing poor English, look­ing ner­vous or trav­el­ing in an over­crowded ve­hi­cle. It warned that race and eth­nic­ity do not.

Some agen­cies added ex­tra ma­te­ri­als, in­clud­ing a test, a role-play­ing ex­er­cise or a ques­tion-and-an­swer ses­sion with pros­e­cu­tors.

Crit­ics of the law among po­lice chiefs re­main, say­ing that the law is so vague that no amount of train­ing could elim­i­nate con­fu­sion.

Matt York

In­mates at the Mari­copa County, Ariz., sher­iff’s Tent City could get more com­pany Thurs­day; space has been cleared for 100 more in the fa­cil­ity, and a crime sweep is planned even if a judge blocks Ari­zona’s tough new law.

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