Ariz. Sheriff Says He Will Refuse to Enforce Immigration Law

Sheriff calls new immigration law a "national embarrassment."

April 27, 2010, 11:07 AM

April 27, 2010 — -- An Arizona sheriff said today that he has "no intention of complying" with the state's controversial new immigration law, calling it "abominable" and a "national embarrassment."

The defiance by Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik was perhaps the sharpest rebuke to Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer for signing into law last Friday a bill that empowers police in the state to stop people they suspect may be illegal immigrants and demand identification.

Critics rallied around the country today, claiming the law fosters racism and was a bad policing measure.

Dupnik told that he'd like Brewer to know that "what she and the legislature has accomplished is morally wrong and a national embarrassment."

"We're damned if we do, and damned if we don't," said Dupnik. "If we go out and look for illegal immigrants, they accuse us of racial profiling and we can get sued. And if some citizen doesn't think we're enforcing the state law, they can sue us too."

"If the chief of police or sheriff takes a squad out and says to them that their only duty is to go out and round up illegal immigrants, they are going to racially profile," said Dupnik. "But we have never done that and we will never do that."

Referring to the law, the sheriff said he "has no intention of complying with it."

Others voiced their anger at the law during rallies in New York, San Francisco and Chicago. In Chicago, authorities arrested 25 protestors for disorderly conduct after they sat in a street blocking a van carrying deportees from a federal detention center.

"The bill is extremely anti-immigrant, it legalizes racial profiling and criminalizes immigrants and does nothing to address the broken immigration system that has existed in this country for years," said Frances Liu, a daughter of two Chinese immigrants who now works at the New York Immigration Coalition.

About 40 people attended the lunch time rally in Manhattan's Federal Plaza, where most mornings immigrants form a line that stretches out of the buidling and across the plaza waiting their turn to have visa requests taken care of.

At her first public appearance since signing the law, Brewer said today she was not concerned about the impact it could have on the state's economy.

Most Arizona residents agree with her. According to a Rasmussen poll, some 70 percent of state residents say they support the new law.

Brewer said that when she meets with companies interested in moving to Arizona they are "concerned and want to know we have a safe and secure environment."

While Brewer spoke inside a Tuscon hotel, hundreds of protestors rallied outside.

Criticism Builds on Arizona Immigration Law

Former Republican Florida Gov. Jeb Bush told POLITICO of the law, "I think it creates unintended consequences."

"It's difficult for me to imagine how you're going to enforce this law," said Bush. "It places a significant burden on local law enforcement and you have civil liberties issues that are significant as well."

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told Congress today that the law doesn't take effect for 90 days, "which permits time, I think, for the Justice Department to really look at whether the law meets constitutional safeguards or not."

Napolitano, who repeatedly vetoed the immigration bill during her tenure as governor of Arizona, said it may waste law enforcement resources and tie up federal courts with illegal immigrants.

"We have some deep concerns with the law from a law enforcement perspective because we believe it will detract from and siphon resources that we need to focus on those in the country illegally who are ... committing the most serious crimes in addition to violating our nation's immigration laws," she said.

Attorney General Eric Holder said that he feared the new law would be "subject to potential abuse."

In Federal Plaza in Manhattan, the bill was seen as anti-American.

"Immigrants across this country are coming here for a better life and to contribute to this nation socially and economically, and this law doesn't move in the direction that we should be, of recognizing immigrants for what their contributions," Liu said.

Disagreement over the legislation has even split political families. Arizona Sen. John McCain has taken a hard-line stance in favor of his state's new law, but his daughter Meghan blogged her disagreement.

"I believe it gives the state police a license to discriminate," wrote Meghan McCain.

Hasan Mohammed, who immigrated to New York from Ghana three years ago, said that the law does not make sense to him.

"Why should they sign a bill to deport immigrants? America is a state of immigrants," he said. "It's inhumane."

Joshua Epstein, an attorney for the Immigrant Defense Project, told that as a member of an immigrant family he feels personally targeted by the bill.

"It tears me apart, it tears me apart that my country would purposely destroy families and people that are here to live and contribute to our great country of immigrants," said Epstein.

Calls To Boycott Arizona Over New Immigration Law

The state may pay for the legislation with a loss of business.

Elizabeth Barna, a lawyer with the American Immigration Lawyers Association, said that the organization voted nearly unanimously to cancel a convention scheduled to be held this fall in Arizona.

"The law is terrible. It's going to foster racism and there will be racial profiling, there is no doubt," Barna said.

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors will also consider today a resolution that would result in the city ending contracts with Arizona-based businesses, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

"We want to send a message," Supervisor David Campos said at a rally today. "There are consequences when you target a whole people."

Even a lawmaker from Arizona is urging a boycott of the state. Democratic Rep. Raul Grijalva from Tucson released a statement late last week urging conventions not to come to Arizona until the state overturns the immigration bill.

"Just as professional athletes refused to recognize Arizona until it recognized Martin Luther King Jr., we are calling on businesses and organizations not to bring their conventions to Arizona until it recognizes civil rights and the meaning of due process," Grijalva said.

Los Angeles' Spanish daily newspaper La Opinión called for a national boycott of Arizona in an editorial, writing, "We call on those who believe in the U.S. Constitution to boycott the state of Arizona."

"The anti-immigrant bill signed yesterday in Arizona is a violation of our right to be free from police harassment based on the way we look," the paper stated.

All these boycot calls have some Arizona business owners worried. For the first time since he opened Portland's Restaurant in Phoenix nine years ago, owner Dylan Bethge is concerned about his business.

"It could take about a quarter of our business away if we lost some big conventions," Bethge said today.

President Obama and Mexican President Felipe Calderon have both criticized the new law, and Mexico's foreign relations department issued an advisory today urging Mexicans in Arizona to "act with prudence and respect the framework of local laws."

"It should be assumed that any Mexican citizen could be bothered and questioned for no other reason at any moment," according to the travel alert.

ABC News' Barbara Pinto, Jason Ryan and The Associated Press contributed to this report

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