Arizona softens stance on stringent immigration law
Arizona lawmakers modified a controversial immigration law with a ban on race being used by police as a factor to identify illegal immigrants under the intense pressure from a wide variety of opponents, the Los Angeles Times reported Friday.
In the final hours of their legislative session late Thursday, after three federal lawsuits were filed contending the law is unconstitutional, lawmakers removed the word "solely," explicitly banning race from being used at all by police, Xinhua reported.
"It should quell the fears that a lot of people have vocalized, " Lyle Mann, who oversees training of police officers for the state said. "This will make the training and policymaking much clearer and simpler."
The law makes it a state crime to lack proper immigration papers in Arizona and requires police to determine whether people are in the country illegally. Illegal immigrants can be jailed for up to six months and fined at least 500 U.S. dollars
The initial law forbade race from being used "solely" to form the suspicion but not from being a factor. Civil rights lawyers contended that it essentially legalized racial profiling.
Lawmakers also lessened the penalties that local governments must pay if residents successfully sue because police are not enforcing the law, according to the Times. They narrowed the law signed last week by Governor Jan Brewer in hopes of quelling a national outrage over suggestions it will force police to racially profile Latinos while looking for illegal immigrants, the newspaper said.
President Barack Obama has criticized the motion as misguiding, and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has sided with two city councilmen who proposed a boycott of the state.
A large rally is slated to be held in downtown Los Angeles Saturday which is expected to attract as many as 100,000 people who will voice their anger towards the law -- dubbed as one of America's harshest immigration laws.