Immigration Law Side Effect

More from this show

According to a report by the Arizona Capitol Times, Arizona’s new immigration law will allow more undocumented residents to apply for temporary work visas and permanent U.S. citizenship. Arizona Capitol Times reporter Jim Small explains this side effect of the law.

Ted Simons:
Research indicates that Arizona's new immigration law could result in giving some illegal immigrants legal status. Here to explain is "Arizona Capitol Times" reporter Jim Small. Jim, thanks for being here. What the heck is going on?

Basically when someone is detained by immigration, customs and border patrol and get entered into the deportation system, there's a whole section of federal law that deals with this. One of the things that's allowed, a lot of the people arrested on immigration violations can appeal the deportation. They can petition to have their status changed so they can become lawful permanent residents of the state. Or they can completely get their deportation canceled outright. So the idea is that if you take more people under the enforcement of this new immigration law, like most people expect will happen and more people are entered into the system, more people necessarily are going to see their status changing from illegal immigrant to legal resident.

Ted Simons:
Sounds like going from the shadows until now you're in the system, maybe not how you'd like to be. Can you even apply for a driver's license?

Jim Small:
Yeah. The way it works, we have 1900 federal immigration beds in two detention facilities in the state that get filled up very quickly. Most of the time they are completely jammed. Most folks if they don't have a criminal background, no violent felonies, they are going to get released on a bond and pay $3,000 to $5,000 and get out. Most of the folks fighting the charges will apply for work papers. They allow them to get a Social Security card and also apply for a driver's license.

Ted Simons:
We have the sheriff saying he can make enough tents for anybody you want to bring in there. Because of something like this, could we start to see more detained folks, as opposed to just letting them out and waiting for the hearing?

Jim Small:
It depends. I think what the sheriff's talking about is the charges under the new state law, basically the trespassing statute, making it a state crime to be here. This is under the federal immigration system. The idea of this law is to get people and then turn them over to the Feds so they can be deported and sent back to their country of origin. That begins a long process taking more than four years at this point.

Ted Simons:
That becomes a conundrum where you have a suspect. Did he break state laws, federal rules and violations? What happens to this particular fellow?

Jim Small:
I think we have to see how prosecutors decide to handle these cases and whether the state prosecutors, the county attorneys, want to take the first bite of this apple and put them through the state system before turning them over to the Feds. Or if they just turn them over to the Feds and say, okay, we'll wait and see how that's going.

Ted Simons:
Anyone think of this earlier?

Jim Small:
Apparently not. There was a lot of discussion. There certainly was a lot of debate and back-and-forth about this bill at the legislature. But the way the interactions happened with federal immigration law, that's a very nuanced system. There wasn't a lot of discussion about how it would work with that, how it would interact with that and possible ramifications and I think this is an example of that.

Ted Simons:
Russell Pearce says this is no big deal, most of them are going to wind up leaving the country anyway.

Jim Small:
Right. He said if there are people who get swept up and are able to get out and get work documents, he doesn't like it; but he's okay with it because the state and taxpayers are going to save a lot of money by folks who leave the state, whether they go to their home country go to California or Utah, somewhere else, the state's not going to have to pay for education and services for these people.

Ted Simons:
Great work on the story, Jim. Thanks for joining us.

Jim Small:
Thank you.

Jim Small:Arizona Capitol Times;

Illustration of columns of a capitol building with text reading: Arizona PBS AZ Votes 2024

Arizona PBS presents candidate debates

The four men of Il Divo
airs June 2

Il Divo XX: Live from Taipei

Rachel Khong
May 29

Join us for PBS Books Readers Club!

Super Why characters

Join a Super Why Reading Camp to play, learn and grow

Subscribe to Arizona PBS Newsletters

STAY in touch

Subscribe to Arizona PBS Newsletters: