Arizona revises illegal-immigration law

PHOENIX — Gov. Jan Brewer on Friday signed a follow-on bill approved by Arizona legislators that makes revisions to the state's sweeping law against illegal immigration — changes she says should quell concerns that the measure will lead to racial profiling.

The law requires local and state law enforcement to question people about their immigration status if there's reason to suspect they're in the country illegally, and makes it a state crime to be in the United States illegally.

The follow-on bill signed by Brewer makes a number of changes that she said should lay to rest concerns of opponents.

"These new statements make it crystal clear and undeniable that racial profiling is illegal, and will not be tolerated in Arizona," she said.

Lawyers whose clients have filed lawsuits challenging the law did not immediately return calls for comment.

The changes include one strengthening restrictions against using race or ethnicity as the basis for questioning by police and inserts those same restrictions in other parts of the law.

Another change states that immigration status questions would follow a law enforcement officer's stopping, detaining or arresting a person while enforcing another law. The earlier law had referred to a "contact" with police.

Another change specifies that possible violations of local civil ordinances can trigger questioning on immigration status.

Both the law and the changes to it will take effect July 29 unless blocked by a court or referendum filing.

Lawmakers approved the follow-on bill several hours before ending their 2010 session.

The sponsor, Sen. Russell Pearce, unveiled the changes at a House-Senate conference committee Thursday. He later said the revisions would not change how the law is implemented but provide clarifications on intent and to make the bill more defensible in court.

"There will be no profiling," Pearce, R-Mesa, said.

Pearce said the change from the "contact" wording doesn't require a formal arrest before questioning but helps make it clear that racial profiling is not allowed.

"It cannot be just on how you look."