Even though it has not yet taken effect, and not yet faced the inevitable court challenges, Arizona's Senate Bill 1070 has worked very well. In fact it has worked far better than the original authors could have imagined. This may sound strange considering how little time it has had, but as Ayn Rand would point out, if you want to know if something is right ask yourself "by what standard?"
It's actually surprisingly obvious how this bill is a success. Across the country people are debating it, but they’re all either debating "white" versus "brown" or "legal" versus "illegal." Outside of a small handful of libertarian commentators, nobody is pointing out that this bill has established a legal precedent for "papers please."
Some will think that, due to not being of the ethnic group most likely to be targeted, that they are actually safe. But, given the need to not appear to be racially profiling, the police will have license to stop anybody, at any time, on the grounds of "suspicion." And given the overly wide leeway given to police to stop people on "suspicion" that means anybody can be stopped at any time.
This means that if someone fails to show proper respect, they can be asked to show their papers. If someone insults a cop, he can be asked to show his papers. If someone stares too long at a cop, he can be asked to show his papers. Already the crime of "contempt of cop" carries the high risk of being assaulted, and then arrested for "disorderly conduct", with the additional crime of "resisting arrest" and "assaulting a cop" for anyone who tries to resist this unlawful arrest. Now an additional charge can be tacked on.
According to the statute, failure to prove citizenship can carry a fine of up to $100 and 6 days in jail for first time offenders. Originally the bill carried a fine of up to $500 and 20 days in jail for first time offenders. Those who fail to carry documentation more often face steeper fines and sentences.
What remains to be seen is how this act will be enforced on legal citizens who are simultaneously guilty of "contempt of cop" and failure to carry sufficient documentation. Will this require all people in Arizona to carry full proof of citizenship at all times? Will this require all people in Arizona to show said paperwork to police on demand or pay the fine originally intended for illegal aliens?
This bill worked far better than intended. The popular debate focuses on the racial and immigration aspects, and ignores the fact that this implements "papers please."