Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed a controversial new immigration bill today, saying it will help the state solve a crisis that the federal government has refused to fix.
"The federal government has failed in its obligation and moral responsibility to secure our border,” said the Republican governor.
"A government's principle responsibility to its citizens is to provide safety and security,” Brewer added. "States have never been expected, even in prosperous economic times, to sustain the national defense of our borders. With the resources we have today, I am doing everything within my power to ensure and promote safety for our citizens along our southern border.”
Many are calling the new law, known as Senate Bill 1070,
the nation's toughest on illegal immigration.
The new immigration law will require anyone whom police suspect of being in the country illegally to produce "an alien registration document," such as a green card, or other proof of citizenship such as a passport or Arizona driver's license, the Arizona Republic reported.
Hundreds of protesters surrounded the Arizona State Capitol and began chanting "shame on you," seconds after Brewer signed the law, the Arizona newspaper added.
The bill reached Governor Brewer's desk earlier this week after its passage by the Republican-led Senate.
"This bill reinforces federal law by removing the political handcuffs placed on our law enforcement, empowering state law enforcement with tools it needs to address illegal immigration,” Republican Senator Russell Pearce said April 20.
"This legislation stops practices that hurt Arizonans, like sanctuary cities and ‘catch and release policies,'” Pearce added. "Illegal is illegal.”
But the state's Senate Democrats remain opposed. "This legislation will criminalize all immigrants, infringe on free speech, encourage racial profiling and lead to enormous costs, into the millions, at a time Arizona cannot afford unfunded mandates, the state's Senate Democrats said today.
Read more on Arizona's new law:
Catherine Merlo is Western editor for Dairy Today. You can reach her at email@example.com.