There has been a lot of controversy regarding immigration laws over the past few years, especially here in the Phoenix area. Recently, policy changes limiting when and where a person's immigration status can be applied to local police work have been instituted in the Phoenix Police Department.
Immigration Status When You're Arrested
Arizona law currently requires that the immigration status of any person that is arrested be verified by the federal government before they can be released. If you are arrested, you have the right to remain silent and contact a lawyer, but your immigration status will be verified. An immigration attorney or criminal defender can guide you through the legal complexities. Remember, a traffic stop or a casual conversation is not an arrest. If an officer is questioning you in this situation, you may politely ask if you are free to go.
Reaction to National Events
This proposal was introduced in light of President Trump's executive orders on immigration enforcement. Citizens petitioned to make Phoenix a sanctuary city, but the City Council rejected the proposal. Instead, they formed a subcommittee to introduce policy changes designed to help immigrants in the community.
ACLU Declares Victory, But…
According to the ACLU of Arizona, the proposal
- Bars police officers in Phoenix from asking witnesses or crime victims about their immigration status.
- Prohibits school resource officers from asking students about their immigration status, and from contacting Immigration and Customs Enforcement while on school grounds.
- Requires officers to seek approval before contacting ICE, and keep records regarding contact with ICE.
- Requires officers to conduct traffic stops in a reasonable amount of time, to prevent them from taking actions having nothing to do with the purpose of the stop.
Despite the proposed revisions, the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona believes that more safeguards are needed to prevent biased policing. Some police professionals feel differently, arguing that the changes undermine their work. There's no denying that the national attention garnered by Sheriff Joe Arpaio's policing practices demands a proactive response to concerns about policing in Phoenix. An ideal middle ground would protect the civil rights of immigrants without undue infringement on law enforcement.
Immigrants Charged with A Criminal Offense
No matter your immigration status, you have a right to counsel in criminal court. Under the Sixth Amendment, if you cannot afford an attorney, you will be assigned a public defender. You also have the right to privately hire an attorney of your choice. Steve Garcia specializes in criminal defense and can help if you're facing criminal charges.
Disclaimer: Garcia Law can assist criminal defendants regardless of immigration status, but our firm does not specialize in civil immigration law or deportation proceedings. For help with immigration issues when you haven't been accused of a crime, contact an immigration attorney in Phoenix.