As the Rev. Al Sharpton leads the charge against the Arizona immigration law set to take effect this summer giving police permission to demand documentation from those suspected of being in the state illegally, amNewYork spoke with Carol M. Swain, author of “Debating Immigration” and a professor at Vanderbilt University Law School in Nashville, Tenn.

What will this law actually do?
The biggest thing it does is put the national government on alert, that if Congress is not willing to reform immigration laws, then it will be up to the states.

What do you make of the authorities saying ‘trust us’ about enforcement?
Americans are accustomed to being stopped by police officers and having to produce a driver’s license or some sort of identification. … For Arizona, it only becomes problematic if they’re just randomly or strategically going to places where they think undocumented persons are and demanding those people to produce identification.

Should the president get involved in this debate?
I don’t think he should get involved at the point of undermining the state’s action. We do need comprehensive immigration reform, but it doesn’t strike me as constructive his criticisms of Arizona, because he doesn’t know the experience of the people who live in Arizona.

Will it jump-start talks on immigration reform?
I believe it has to. The Arizona law forces immigration to the forefront as the No. 1 issue the nation has to address.

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