"Papers, please" provision makes law enforcers uneasy, supporters say it shouldn't
CREATED Sep. 6, 2012
Reporter: Kevin Keen
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - The court rules a controversial part of SB 1070 will stand, but local law enforcement leaders have concerns about enforcing it. That “show me your papers” provision will require officers, while enforcing other laws, to question the immigration status of people they suspect are in the country illegally. It all makes some Southern Arizonan top law enforcers uneasy, but lawmakers behind SB 1070 say it shouldn't.
Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik and Tucson Police Chief Roberto Villaseñor say their agencies will enforce SB 1070, including the "show me your papers" part. Both men, however, have concerns.
“It could increase the accusations of racial profiling,” Villaseñor told 9 On Your Side. “Now, I want to be very clear: I don't think that it's going to increase racial profiling by my officers because I trust my officers. But people are so sensitized to this, I think there'll be more accusations.”
But Dupnik said mistakes can happen in the field.
“Officers are human beings. Even when they try their best, sometimes their judgment is different from what I would prefer their judgment be. But on the whole, I think our officers do a very good job and use good common sense out there.”
Both top cops added their departments are now more prone to lawsuits from those who'll believe they were racially profiled and from those who believe their departments aren't enforcing the law enough.
Read more about Chief Villaseñor’s reaction and Sheriff Dupnik's reaction to the upholding of the provision. Read about the concerns of other law enforcement heads in the state.
State Senator Frank Antenori, District 30, has full confidence law enforcement will enforce SB 1070. But the Republican believes there is no fine line here for officers and agencies. He said when the "show me your papers" provision applies is clear cut.
“The vast majority of them will do their duty,” Antenori said. “Of course there's an occasional bad apple. They may do something wrong. There's a provision in the law that if a police officer knowingly racially profiles or harasses someone solely based on their race, ethnicity or skin color, he can be punished. It is a criminal offense that was put into SB 1070 that makes it illegal and punishable for a police officer that racially profiles anybody.”
“If bad cops perform poorly in the field and use the law on a racial profiling basis, that will need to be addressed,” said State Representative Vic Williams, a Republican representing District 26. “We need to take that into consideration and ensure that civil liberties and individual rights are not infringed upon.”
The Associated Press reported the "papers, please" provision will go into effect in about ten days.