Washington: The governor of the US state of Arizona signed a tough new law targeting illegal immigrants, which critics claim enshrines racial profiling and President Barack Obama branded "misguided”.
One of the most severe measures on immigration in the statute books ignited fury among immigrant groups, and a fierce legal and political row, just as Democrats consider launching a comprehensive immigration reform bid.
The law, signed by Arizona`s Republican Governor Jan Brewer, allows police to question and detain anyone in the southwestern border state they believe may be an illegal immigrant, even if they are not suspected of committing another crime.
It would also require anyone in the state suspected of being an illegal immigrant to show some kind of document proving citizenship, like a "green card" permanent residency document or a passport.
"This bill supports law enforcement and safe neighbourhoods and strengthens the laws of our state," Brewer said at a signing ceremony. "It protects all of us, every Arizona citizen and everyone here in our state lawfully."
But she denied the law would lead to "racial profiling" by police officers.
"I will not tolerate racial discrimination or racial profiling in Arizona," she said.
Opponents of the law say that if police demand papers from someone they suspect of being an illegal immigrant, and they turn out to be a US citizen, their constitutional rights will have been infringed.