President Obama said the controversial anti-immigrant bill that passed Arizona's state legislature last week and is expected to be signed by its governor is "misguided." (The bill was signed by the governor late Friday afternoon, April 23.)
The president's remarks come days after hundreds of immigrant rights activists staged civil disobedience protests and vigils at Arizona's Capitol opposing the measure, which has drawn national attention.
The bill would make it a crime under state law to be in the country illegally and require local police to question people about their immigration status if there is a reason to suspect they are undocumented.
Critics of the measure say it would encourage racial profiling, lead to unwarranted arrests and greater distrust of local police in the Latino community that could translate into fear of reporting crimes.
Speaking at a naturalization ceremony for active duty service members on Friday in Washington, Obama said, "Our failure to act responsibly at the federal level will only open the door to irresponsibility by others."
The president referred to the recent efforts in Arizona, which he says "threaten to undermine basic notions of fairness that we cherish as Americans, as well as the trust between police and their communities that is so crucial to keeping us safe."
Obama said he has instructed his administration to examine the Arizona bill to see if it violates people's civil rights.