Arizona Senate Bill 1070

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Definition: Arizona Senate Bill 1070

Arizona Senate Bill 1070

Full Definition of Arizona Senate Bill 1070

On April 23, 2010, Governor Jan Brewer of Arizona signed an illegal immigration law — Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act — into effect thereby igniting a tumultuous national debate over illegal aliens. This bill was sponsored by Russell Pearce, a state senator and advocate against illegal immigration. The law takes effect 90 days after the Arizona legislative session ends — approximately July or August of 2010.


Arizona, which borders Mexico, has approximately 460,000 illegal immigrants within its borders. As a state struggling with frequent illegal crossings from Mexico, the Arizona legislature historically has adopted stringent sanctions against the illegal immigrant population.  In 2007, Arizona enacted the Legal Arizona Workers Act (LAWA), prohibiting an employer from knowingly or intentionally employing an unauthorized alien and establishing penalties for employers in violation.

Changes Under Arizona Senate Bill 1070

  • Requires a reasonable attempt to be made to determine the immigration status of a person during any legitimate contact made by an official or agency of the state or a county, city, town, or political subdivision if “reasonable suspicion” exists that the person is an alien
  • Requires the person’s immigration status to be verified with the federal government pursuant to federal law
  • Requires an alien unlawfully present in the U.S. who is convicted of a violation of state or local law to be transferred immediately to the custody of ICE or Customs and Border Protection
  • Allows a law enforcement officer, without a warrant, to arrest a person if the officer has probable cause to believe that the person has committed any public offense that makes the person removable from the U.S.


Many groups question whether this bill will require law enforcement to use racial profiling to comply with the law. The bill provides that “[f]or any lawful contact made by a law enforcement official or agency of this state or a county, city, town or other political subdivision of this state where reasonable suspicion exists that the person is an alien who is unlawfully present in the United States, a reasonable attempt shall be made, when practicable, to determine the immigration status of the person.” Immigrant groups, such as the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, assert that officers will have to utilize some form of profiling to establish “reasonable suspicion”.

Additionally, this bill enforces criminal penalties against illegal aliens by charging them. Section 13-1509(g) finds a “violation for this section is a Class 1 misdemeanor” when that individual fails to maintain the proper authorization from the federal government.

Three lawsuits challenging the law’s constitutionality were filed in federal court. One lawsuit was filed by the National Coalition of Latino Clergy and Christian Leaders. Their suit was filed in U.S. District Court in Phoenix and claims that Arizona usurped federal authority in regards to immigration enforcement. The second lawsuit was filed on behalf of Tuscon Police Officer Martin Escobar. His complaint alleges that SB 1070 hinders police investigations in Hispanic-prevalent areas thereby resulting in constitutional violations. Similarly, Phoenix Office David Salgado also asserted constitutional violations with specific reference to the Fourteenth Amendment’s equal protection clause. Officer Salgado asserts in his complaint that SB 1070 as applied would unduly discriminate against those of Hispanic origin.


On April 29, 2010, Governor Jan Brewer signed a trailer bill (H2162) to Senate Bill 1070 which was passed one week prior to April 29th. This bill strives to preclude the use of racial profiling by law enforcement upon its enforcement of SB 1070. The key changes to the new immigration law are: (1) removes race, color, or ethnicity as has a basis for lawful contact; (2) permits police officer activity at the city and county level based on policies only; (3) lowered the minimum fines assessed upon cities and counties for violating the new immigration law from $1000 to $500 per day; and (4) broadens the basis for lawful contact under the new immigration law to include the enforcement of local legislation.

Boycotts in response to Arizona’s immigration bill have originated from individuals, groups, and entities throughout the country. Currently, Arizona’s $18.6 billion travel industry stands to be the biggest loser of a national campaign against Senate Bill 1070. The National Council of La Raza (“NCLR”) announced a nationwide boycott including organizations such as People for the American Way, Japanese American Citizens League, Service Employees International Union, and Reverend Al Sharpton National Action Network. NCLR urges all its affiliates to boycott Major League Baseball’s 2011 All-Star Game and reached 5,000 pledges of cooperation on May 11th. Additionally, NCLR is pressuring Major League Baseball to move the 2011 All-Star from Phoenix to another location.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced the Obama Administration’s intention of bringing a federal lawsuit against Senate Bill 1070. Clinton’s announcement was made during an interview with an Ecuadorian reporter. Since authority over immigration law lies with the federal legislative and executive branches, the Obama Administration may challenge this Bill under many doctrines including the Supremacy Clause.

The Supreme Court has granted certiorari to a case regarding a 2007 Arizona state law called the “Legal Arizona Workers Act.” This Arizona law suspends or revokes licenses to do business in the state in order to penalize employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants. It also requires employers to use an electronic verification system to check the work-authorization status of employees through federal records. The Supreme Court’s decision, in this case, could affect the legitimacy of Senate Bill 1070.

The Department of Justice has filed a complaint in Arizona challenging the validity of Arizona Senate Bill 1070 and House Bill 2162. This lawsuit argues the state statute should be invalid because it violates the supremacy clause by preempting federal law. “In our constitutional system, the power to regulate immigration is exclusively vested in the federal government… . The immigration framework set forth by Congress and administered by federal agencies reflects a careful and considered balance of national law enforcement, foreign relations, and humanitarian concerns — concerns that belong to the nation as a whole, not a single state.” The federal judge, in this case, the Honorable Susan Bolton, ordered the controversial elements of Senate Bill 1070 not take effect on July 29, 2010.

Related Phrases

Reasonable Suspicion
Supreme Court Cases (2000 - 2009) - Immigration law
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services
The United States v. Arizona

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Definition Sources

Definitions for Arizona Senate Bill 1070 are sourced/syndicated and enhanced from:

  • A Dictionary of Economics (Oxford Quick Reference)
  • Oxford Dictionary Of Accounting
  • Oxford Dictionary Of Business & Management

This glossary post was last updated: 8th October, 2021 | 0 Views.