Sunday, June 20, 2010

Immigration law's broad wording has legal residents worried

Immigration law's broad wording has legal residents worried

Most of the talk concerns provisions in the law that make it a state crime to be in the country illegally, but the law also makes it a crime to stop your car in the road to hire a day laborer if it impedes traffic. It also makes it a crime to transport, harbor, conceal or shield an illegal immigrant if you do so while committing a separate criminal offense.

And while most Arizonans don't intend to commit a crime that would put them at risk of violating the law, many are confused enough by its wording that they worry they could unwittingly violate it. They are unsure whether a criminal offense means armed robbery and homicide or speeding and having tall weeds. They don't know what activities could be covered under "harboring" or "sheltering," and the law doesn't offer any examples. It also doesn't explain impeding traffic.

Those portions of the law are broad enough in scope to leave people questioning activities they never before would have given a second thought: Can you still hire a day laborer to help you build a front walkway? Should you stop serving food at the local homeless shelter? Is it OK to rent a house to someone who may be an illegal immigrant? Must you ensure that your landscaper or housekeeper is legal? Should you confirm the legal status of your son's friends before letting him drive them to school?

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