On the day before Arizona’s controversial immigration law makes its case before the nation’s highest court, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) faced off with the law’s author, former Arizona State Senate President Russell Pearce, and announced plans to introduce legislation that would curb the state law’s authority.
During a Senate Judiciary immigration subcommittee hearing, Schumer grilled Pearce for the inclusion of the word “dress” as a characteristic used by Arizona police officers to flag suspicious people after they’ve been pulled over.
What does an illegal immigrant dress like?” Schumer demanded of Pearce.
Schumer continued to press the former Arizona state official by asking about a separate provision in the law that would allow citizens to file lawsuits against Arizona law enforcement if they’re believed to be independently refusing to uphold the law.
“Isn’t that demeaning to police officers? Won’t that push them to do things to protect themselves from lawsuits that the believe they shouldn’t do?” Schumer asked.
Pearce, on the other hand, answered vaguely by saying the guidelines that officers are required to adhere to were carefully constructed by law enforcement and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials. Pearce then shot back at Schumer, accusing him of failing to trust local law enforcement.
“I think it’s demeaning to law enforcement to assume they don’t know how to do their jobs,” Pearce said. “I get a little disappointed that we’re the bad guys for enforcing the law… I think Americans are tired of the drive-by statements from politicians.”
Schumer unveiled the details of a Senate Democratic measure meant to be employed if the Supreme Court upholds the law. Though Schumer said he hopes the Supreme Court will strike down the controversial state law, his back up plan is legislation that would prohibit states from implementing anti-immigration measures without the direct cooperation of federal officials.
The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments over S.B. 1070. Pearce said he believes that law will be upheld, 5-3, given that Justice Elena Kagan recuses herself.