New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson said Arizona’s controversial new immigration law will spread to other states if it is not successfully challenged in federal court.
Richardson, the nation’s only Hispanic governor, told CBS’ “Face the Nation” that the law is bitterly divisive, and many other states will try to pass similar bills next year.
“There are at least 10 other states with bills that are out there,” Richardson told host Bob Schieffer. “What you’re going to see is potentially a constitutional crisis with so many states taking what should be a federal responsibility.”
Richardson said he understood Arizona’s “frustration” because the country does not have comprehensive immigration reform.
But J. D. Hayworth, who is running against incumbent Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) for the Republican nomination in the U.S. Senate, said the law is the state’s attempt to enforce federal immigration policies in light of neglect from the Obama administration.
“President Obama wants to ignore federal law,” Hayworth said. “John McCain, and now, it sounds like, Bill Richardson, want to erase federal law and want to erase immigration law and have amnesty – or as Bill calls it, comprehensive immigration reform.”
The U.S. Justice Department has filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Arizona’s law, arguing that the bill, which will require state and local police to question and possibly arrest illegal immigrants during the enforcement of other laws such as traffic violations, usurps federal authority.
Richardson said that was only part of what’s wrong with the law.
“One, it is going to lead to racial profiling. Anybody that looks Hispanic is going to be racially profiled,” Richardson said. “Secondly, it preempts federal law. Immigration is a federal responsibility. Lastly it’s going to hurt our foreign policy with Central America, with Mexico.”
Richardson pointed out that six Mexican governors have refused to attend a border conference as a boycott of the Arizona law. The Border Governors Conference was scheduled to take place in Phoenix in September, but the Mexican delegation refused to set foot in Arizona. Richardson has >agreed to host the event in New Mexico.
“There are specifics in the law that says if the officer deems somebody to look suspicious, they can ask for their immigration papers. That is blatantly racial profiling. Who are they going to ask? They’re going to ask somebody that looks Hispanic. They’re not going to ask somebody that looks like J.D. Hayworth. They’re going to ask somebody that looks like me.”
But Hayworth denied that the law is discriminatory.
“There is no effort at ethnic profiling. The law itself says that the civil rights of all persons will be respected,” he said.
He cited a CBS New Poll that shows a majority of Americans seem to support the law, with 57 percent of Americans characterizing the law as “about right” in how it deals with illegal immigration.
Richardson said he wasn’t surprised by the findings because it shows that the federal government needs to tackle immigration reform, but Arizona’s law is not the way to go.
“My hope is that it gets struck down before it’s implemented at the end of July.”
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