The Arizona bill would require that police ask questions about a person's immigration status if they suspected the person might be in the United States illegally. Other provisions of the bill allow lawsuits against government agencies that hinder enforcement of immigration laws, and make it illegal to hire illegal immigrants for day labor or knowingly transport them.
The president suggested that the legislation was the result of a lack of action on immigration reform on a federal level.
"Our failure to act responsibly at the federal level will only open the door to irresponsibility by others," he said, pointing to the Arizona bill.
Over the years, many have attempted to confront this challenge, but passions are great and disagreements run deep. Yet surely we can all agree that when 11 million people in our country are living here illegally, outside the system, that's unacceptable. The American people demand and deserve a solution. And they deserve common-sense, comprehensive immigration reform grounded in the principles of responsibility and accountability.
Arizona has an estimated 460,000 undocumented immigrants and is the state with the most illegal border crossings. Gov. Jan Brewer has until Saturday to act on the measure. Brewer, a Republican, faces a tough re-election battle and growing anger in the state over illegal immigrants.
Republican Sen. Russell Pearce of Mesa, the sponsor of the bill, said it would aid police in cracking down on illegals and would help drive undocumented immigrants from the state.
Civil rights activists have said the bill would lead to racial profiling and deter Hispanics from reporting crimes.
Source: The Associated Press
UPDATE: Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer has signed the controversial immigration enforcement bill.
Related: Immigration rights groups 'horrified' by new Arizona law