PHOENIX — Arizona lawmakers approved a sweeping immigration bill Monday intended to ramp up law enforcement efforts even as critics complained it could lead to racial profiling and other abuse.
The state Senate voted 17-11 nearly along party lines to send the bill to Gov. Jan Brewer, who has not taken a position.
"This bill goes a long way to bringing law and order to the state,” said Sen. Al Melvin, R-Tucson, who cited costly services provided to illegal immigrants and a recent slaying near the border as reasons for the move.
Arizona enacted a law in 2005 making human smuggling a state crime and prohibited employers from knowingly hiring illegal immigrants with a law in 2007.
The latest bill would make it a state crime for illegal immigrants to not have an alien registration document. It also would require police to question people about their immigration status if there’s reason to suspect they’re in the country illegally.
Other provisions allow citizen lawsuits against government agencies that hinder enforcement of immigration laws, and make it illegal for people to hire illegal immigrants for day labor or knowingly to transport them.
Republican Sen. Russell Pearce of Mesa, who sponsored the bill, said it will take handcuffs off police and put them on violent criminals.