Arizona is on the verge of enacting a tough law that would allow police to arrest immigrants unable to show documents proving they are in the country legally.
“Most of the (produce industry) workplace is Hispanic and the law seems to give police carte blanche to stop and question people who are Hispanic and people of color, and that leads to an uncomfortable environment,” said Jason Resnick, assistant general counsel for Western Growers, Irvine, Calif. “A lot of people, including people who are in this country legally, are going to be harassed.”
Resnick said the law illustrates why the U.S. needs national immigration reform and not a patchwork of laws at the state level. He said there is no clear indication when immigration reform can be taken up by Congress.
While comprehensive immigration reform may be unattainable this year, Western Growers is advocating for the AgJobs bill, which would allow undocumented workers to continue to be employed in agriculture if they meet certain conditions.
Joe Sigg, director of government relations for the Gilbert-based Arizona Farm Bureau Federation, said the group believes the bill could hurt the business environment in Arizona, and other critics said the legislation could increase racial profiling.
The bill, passed by the Arizona House of Representatives and similar to a bill in the state’s Senate, would allow a misdemeanor charge for willfully failing to complete or carry an alien registration document. It would also make it a crime to have an illegal immigrant as a passenger in a vehicle.
Press accounts say Arizona’s Republican Gov. Jan Brewer is likely to sign the bill.