Police Chiefs Slam Arizona Immigration Law: 'It's Very Divisive'

Phoenix Law Enforcement Association president Mark Spencer, who pushed for the passage of the law, said the police chiefs are not in touch with the officers on the ground, and attributed their opposition to political posturing. Spencer said a policy that Phoenix city council implemented two years ago, that mirrors the Arizona immigration law in some ways, has met with success.

"We've test driven SB 1070 in last two years with great success," he said. "It's not mandated, it's discretionary contact with ICE to facilitate their expertise."

A team of Justice Department attorneys has written a recommendation challenging the Arizona immigration law and the police officials today said the agency is likely to act soon.

There are about 10.8 million illegal immigrants in the United States and about 460,000 in Arizona, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

The Arizona law has attracted international attention and sparked protests around the country, even pitting Arizona Republicans against President Obama.

Obama has called the law "misguided" and said it would "undermine basic notions of fairness that we cherish as Americans."

"I think the law has the potential of being applied in a discriminatory fashion," the president said during a joint press conference with Mexico's President Calderon last week.

Arizona's Republican Gov. Jan Brewer said the state is within its right to enforce the law because it mirrors federal laws.

Polls show that a majority of Americans support the Arizona law. In a Pew Research Center poll released this month, 59 percent of Americans said they support the law and 67 percent said they support allowing police to detain anyone who cannot provide their legal status. A poll conducted by NBC News/Wall Street Journal found that 64 percent of Americans approved of the law.

The police chiefs today also briefly addressed Obama's orders to send 1,200 National Guard troops, at a cost of $500 million, to the U.S.-Mexico border, a move the White House said was not a response to the Arizona immigration law, but an effort to combat the crime wave that some say is spilling from Mexico into the United States.

"It still has a long way to go, there's still a huge immigration problem in Arizona but the impact of having more federal people working those borders has had a positive impact and we think this is going to help us as well," Harris said.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and others such as Babeu have said that number will not be enough and that more National Guard troops are needed on the border.

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