UPDATE 1-Arizona police chief criticizes immigration law

* Police chief says law creates problems for officers

* ‘This law does not fix the immigration problem’ – chief

* Sheriff’s deputies nab 64 in immigration, crime sweep

* Democrats immigration overhaul faces hurdle: Republicans
(Updates with sheriff’s crime sweep, details)

By Tim Gaynor and Thomas Ferraro

PHOENIX/WASHINGTON (BestGrowthStock) – The police chief of
Arizona’s largest city said on Friday the state’s controversial
new crackdown on illegal immigrants would likely create more
problems than it solved for local law enforcement.

The remarks by Phoenix Police Chief Jack Harris came as
U.S. Senate Democrats vowed to push ahead with their uphill bid
to pass legislation this year overhauling the nation’s
immigration laws, saying the furor in Arizona has given them a
lift despite a lack of support from Republicans.

Arizona’s week-old law calls for state and local police to
check the immigration status of anyone they suspect is in the
United States illegally. It has outraged Latinos, civil rights
activists and organized labor.

With polls showing the crackdown has broad public support
in Arizona and nationwide, Harris said at a news conference he
understood Americans’ frustration over illegal immigration.

But he criticized the new law as unlikely to solve problems
caused by any of the estimated 10.8 million people who are in
the United States illegally.

“I don’t really believe that this law is going to do what
the vast majority of Americans and Arizonans want, and that is
to fix the immigration problem,” he said. “This law … adds
new problems for local law enforcement.”

Harris said asking officers to determine immigration status
during an investigation would interfere with their primary job
and “instead tells us to become immigration officers and
enforce routine immigration laws that I don’t believe we have
the authority to enforce.”

The chief said his force already had 10 U.S. Immigration
and Customs Enforcement agents in its violent crime unit and
that the law provided no additional enforcement tools.

“We have the tools that we need to enforce the laws in this
state, to reduce property crime and reduce violent crime, to go
after criminals that are responsible for human smuggling,” and
other border-related crimes,” Harris said.

Republican backers say the law is needed to curb crime in
the desert state, which is home to some 460,000 illegal
immigrants and is a furiously trafficked corridor for drug and
migrant smugglers from Mexico.

Phoenix, the state capital and a clearing house for
unauthorized immigrants and drugs headed to cities across the
United States, has recently averaged one drug-related
kidnapping nearly ever day.

POLICE DIVIDED

Revealing stark divisions among police in the Phoenix
valley over immigration, an Arizona sheriff known for cracking
down hard on undocumented migrants continued a two-day
immigration and crime sweep in the west of the city on Friday
afternoon.

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s “crime suppression”
drives have led to allegations of racial profiling. Deputies
stopped and arrested at least 63 people for minor offenses who
could not prove they were in Arizona legally since the
operation began on Thursday.

In Washington, Democrats have been accused of playing
election-year politics by proposing a comprehensive immigration
overhaul that critics insist has little chance of success.

The Senate draft proposal, quickly endorsed by President
Barack Obama, includes calls for bolstered border security, new
sanctions on U.S. employers who hire illegal immigrants and
high-tech identification cards that all U.S. workers would be
required to carry.

Senate Democrats appear to lack support from their
Republican colleagues, however, and time is running out for
legislative action before the November congressional election.

Republican Orrin Hatch, a member of the powerful Senate
Judiciary Committee, said Americans did not trust Washington to
solve the illegal immigration problem.

“Law-abiding immigrants, ranchers, farmers and families
have no confidence that Washington can stop the drug
traffickers, gangs and even those low-enough to traffic human
beings from illegally coming into the United States,” Hatch
said late on Thursday.

“Instead of fixing our broken borders, Washington politicos
are playing a cynical game of introducing so-called immigration
reform that I fear will turn into nothing more than amnesty,”
Hatch said.

The uproar unleashed by the Arizona law has galvanized
Latinos and is expected to translate into higher turnout at
annual May Day rallies in more than 70 cities nationwide on
Saturday.

Organizers say the crowds on the streets, from Los Angeles
to New York, could be the biggest since 2006, when hundreds of
thousands of marchers urged former President George W. Bush to
overhaul federal immigration laws.

He tried, but was torpedoed by Republicans in Congress.

Investing Tools
(Writing by Dan Whitcomb; editing by Todd Eastham)

UPDATE 1-Arizona police chief criticizes immigration law