Arizona – enforce existing U.S. law

Yup – all Arizona is asking is that its police enforce what is already American law. I’ve said this before but I’ll try it again: when I was wandering around Europe in 1971-72, I always knew to carry my visa and passport to display to the local police, because they could, and would ask for it on a regular basis. Even today, hotels in Europe ask for your passport. I didn’t consider it an affront to my humanity then, and I don’t see anything wrong with it now. If you’re here as a visitor, carry your ID. If you’re here illegally, tough luck.

8 USC 1304 (e)

(e) Personal possession of registration or receipt card; penalties
      Every alien, eighteen years of age and over, shall at all times
    carry with him and have in his personal possession any certificate
    of alien registration or alien registration receipt card issued to
    him pursuant to subsection (d) of this section. Any alien who fails
    to comply with the provisions of this subsection shall be guilty of
    a misdemeanor and shall upon conviction for each offense be fined
    not to exceed $100 or be imprisoned not more than thirty days, or


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8 responses to “Arizona – enforce existing U.S. law

  1. InfoDiva

    I lived and worked in Europe for years in the late 1970s and never once had to produce my passport other than at national borders.

    I have to wonder what you looked like to attract that much police attention.

    • I was an 18-year-old, long-haired kid with a backpack. Racial profiling! I still considered it fair play. And when in Italy last fall, the hotel still wanted my passport when I checked in, even though I was an older guy dressed in nice clothes. What’s the big deal?
      Update: I spent most of that time in Crete, when Greece was controlled by Papadopolus and his junta. They were tough on hippies, but the Swiss, Austrians and Swedes weren’t much easier.

  2. Anonymous

    Suspect legal immigrants despise the illegals as much as does any other law-abiding citizen and taxpayer

  3. JoeKnows

    Let’s get real.. and practical… if you’re driving around Scottsdale or Phoenix and get pulled over by a cop, will you
    a) be asked for your passport to prove citizenship?
    b) even have it with you?

    a) if you’re a white, middle aged man, probably not
    b) I’d be surprised. Then what happens? If you look crossed-eyed at the cop they haul you away — probably gives them another reason.

    I travel the world, and have no issue confirming citizenship when crossing global jursdictions, including returning to the states. But within the US? Come on.

    It’s racial /ethnic profiling. Period.

  4. Gideon Fountain

    Ok, nice try, but I can “read through the lines” here, buster! What you’re basically saying is you HATE Hispanics!

  5. Anonymous

    I travel to EU frequently and always have my passport on my person. I cannot check into a hotel without it nor can I cross from one state to another without it.

    If you’re driving in any state, the first thing that is asked for by the officer is license and registration. A license is proof of identity. An illegal immigrant will not have a state-issued license. He/she may have an international drivers license.

  6. anonanon


    I believe the issue is much more subtle than cable news and blogosphere soundbites are able to convey.

    A constitutional lawyer could clarify, but my understanding is that the AZ law now allows a police officer to simply “suspect” a person is “illegal” and detain them.

    I believe this would constitute what is called a “Terry Stop”, named for a 1968 case, Terry v. Ohio. In Terry (a case which involved a concealed weapon), the Supreme Court ruled that a police officer can stop and question a suspect upon “reasonable suspicion” that a crime has been, is being, or may be committed.

    The Court saw such a “stop” as an “intrusion”, as noted by Chief Justice Warren who, in writing for the majority, stated:’

    “And in justifying the particular intrusion the police officer must be able to point to specific and articulable facts which, taken together with rational inferences from those facts, reasonably warrant that intrusion.”

    In a more recent case (Hiibel v Sixth Judicial Court of Nevada, 2004), the Supreme Court, in a 5-4 vote, narrowly upheld a Nevada law allowing law enforcement to arrest an individual when he refuses to identify himself, and reasonable suspicion–though not probable cause–exists that he has committed a crime.

    There is no federal law requiring that an individual identify herself during a Terry stop. And Hiibel simply established that states and localities have the power to require people to identify themselves under the conditions imposed by the Terry v. Ohio ruling.

    Writing for the Court in Hiibel v. Sixth Judicial District Court of Nevada, Justice Kennedy stated:

    “Here the Nevada statute is narrower and more precise. The statute in Kolender had been interpreted to require a suspect to give the officer ‘credible and reliable’ identification.

    In contrast, the Nevada Supreme Court has interpreted NRS §171.123(3) to require only that a suspect disclose his name.” — 542 U.S. 177, at 184–185

    Justice Kennedy continued:

    “As we understand it, the statute does not require a suspect to give the officer a drivers license or any other document. Provided that the suspect either states his name or communicates it to the officer by other means—a choice, we assume, that the suspect may make—the statute is satisfied and no violation occurs.” — 542 U.S. 177, at 185

    Writing for the Nevada Supreme Court in Hiibel v. Dist. Ct., Chief Justice Young said:

    “The suspect is not required to provide private details about his background, but merely to state his name to an officer when reasonable suspicion exists.” — 118 Nev. 868, at 875

    As of the end of 2009, 24 states have “Stop and Identify” laws on their books.

    Here is the core of the AZ law controversy….

    The new law states that a police officer may make a reasonable attempt to verify alien status “where reasonable suspicion exists that the person is an alien who is unlawfully present in the United States”

    I am peaceably walking down the street in Phoenix…a police officer drives past…how does he or she determine if there is “reasonable suspicion” to stop me and demand identification?

    I am no lawyer – but this is ripe for overturn, and, per Terry and Hiibel, constitutionally ambiguous.

    • No, the AZ law denies the power to stop on suspicion that a suspect isn’t legal, but if the guy violates another law – runs a stop sign, for instance, and can’t produce a driver’s license, say, then he can be asked for his passport or visa.