The House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee approved changes to the “papers please” bill on a party line vote with the bill going to a full floor vote in the House of Representatives as soon as Thursday.
Among the changes that passed is a provision that specifies that an officer can quiz and possibly detain vehicle passengers about their citizenship. Another proposed change allows officers to question and possibly detain a suspected undocumented immigrant when issuing a traffic citation or making an arrest. The current law allows the questioning to commence only during traffic “stops.”
Now an officer could question passengers in the car about their citizenship if the officer is issuing the driver a ticked or arresting the driver, provided the officer has a “reasonable suspicion” that passengers are undocumented.
The expansion has civil rights advocates up in arms and lawmakers in the state wondering just how far anti-immigrant activists plan on taking their crusade.
“My 16-year-old daughter should not be asked for her identification because I was speeding,” Rep. Napoleon Bracy, Jr., D-Prichard, said. Bracy said he is afraid the provision will encourage racial profiling of “black people and brown people” and that minorities could see themselves treated differently during traffic stops.
“If you were a white person that was a passenger in the car, you wouldn’t be subject to this. That is where the racial profiling comes in,” said Bracy, who is black.
The committee also approved an amendment to the bill that would protect churches and not prevent them from “ministering to or providing material goods or services to all individuals, regardless of immigration status” as well as language that requires foreign workers and tourists to demonstrate their lawful presence during all business transactions with local governments.
Photo from ElvertBarnes via flickr.
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