Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, whose tough crackdowns have made him a hero in the anti-illegal immigration community, pointed out that the new law would not unfairly target Mexicans, as some of charged.
"The law gives police authority to question anyone they think is here illegally, not just people of Hispanic origin," he pointed out. "So if someone is very pale and blond, that might be cause to investigate as to whether they're here illegally from Sweden.
"Or they might be an albino, in which case they might be here illegally from Albania," he pointed out.
Besides skin shade and hair color, Arpaio said police will be trained to spot other characteristics that may denote whether someone might be in Arizona illegally. For instance:
- Funny accent;
- Eating croissants and/or strudel;
- Spearing pigeons and putting them into a pillowcase for possible later consumption;
- Saying "coffee" like "cawfee."
"That could mean they're from New York," said Arpaio. "I hate New Yorkers." He noted, however, that since the law doesn't technically make it illegal for New Yorkers to be in Arizona, officers would just "give them a hard time."
While the new law has drawn protests around the state and the country, it has some high-profile supporters, such as Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, who signed the bill last week. Brewer said she doesn't like the term "racial profiling," preferring instead to describe the newly proscribed methods as "pro-American policing," or PAP.
"Just look around - these people could be from anywhere," said Gov. Brewer, gesturing to the angry crowds gathered in protest around the Arizona Capitol. "There are a lot of very swarthy people there, and I think police need the freedom to question them as to their status."
When pointed out that the people could just be tanned as a result of living in Arizona, Brewer responded, "Can I see your papers, please?"