If a group of Mexican-American men who happen to be speaking Spanish are looking at drywall at the local Home Depot and a cop walks down the aisle, this law entitles him to approach the men and ask for their legal documents. How many of you normally carry your birth certificate or passport with you when you go shopping? If you look Mexican and are in Arizona, you should be prepared to do so from now on.Virtually none of that is true. To begin, and from a purely pragmatic point of view, if the law is implemented in the fashion Chavez envisions, it will be a goner in no time. It will be successfully challenged on due process and/or civil rights grounds in the Federal courts.
Finally, the law makes it legal for the police to pull over “any person who is operating a motor vehicle if the officer has reasonable suspicion to believe the person is in violation of any civil traffic law and this section.” Notice, the law doesn’t require the person to have violated a traffic law, it merely requires the police to have “reasonable suspicion” that the person is in violation of any civil traffic law or is illegally present in the U.S. So if you look like you might not have an Arizona driver’s license, or even if you simply look to this particular police officer like you might be in the country illegally, you can be pulled over and required to produce proof of citizenship or legal resident status.
Secondly, the scenario in her first paragraph assumes that a cop, with no more to go on than the sight and sound of people in a store speaking Spanish, would even dream of calling that "articulable suspicion" to make a police contact (or Terry stop). Such a contact is ALREADY off-limits under any criminal statute of which I know. Despite a lot of ignorance to the contrary, police may not UNDER LAW accost someone minding their own business...so long as that business is legal. Now, anybody...police officer or not...can ask you for your ID. You have a right to politely say NO, and continue on your way. Nothing about the Arizona law alters that, nor could it.
In her second paragraph, Chavez seems to have conflated the section regarding identification of individuals with the section on illegal alien smuggling. That is just sloppy.
The "reasonable suspicion" mentioned is not, again, novel to this law. It is part of very well worn and proven search and seizure and arrest jurisprudence. Note also that it is almost impossible for a police officer to KNOW you committed a traffic violation; that is a matter for due process. Generally, all they have is an "articulable" SUSPICION that a traffic violation has occurred (like when they see someone driving very slowly down the road, indicating they are impaired and know it). That's why you are not fined by police officers.
"So if you look like you might not have an Arizona driver’s license, or even if you simply look to this particular police officer like you might be in the country illegally, you can be pulled over and required to produce proof of citizenship or legal resident status." What??? Why would they do that, when they don't do it now? Cops don't pull people over because they "might not have an Arizona driver's license", though driving without a license is illegal. That would never pass muster.
Police DO pull all motorists over at a sobriety check, and that is perfectly legal if done correctly. Anyone who's been near the border knows that ICE WILL stop you...regardless...and check your identity and immigration status.
No trained peace officer who wants to keep their job and their insurance would do what Chavez seems to think will be commonplace. And, if they do, the opponents of this law will have the showing they need to take it to the Federal courts. Duh.