Arizona vs. United States
By Melanie Fox on 04/18/2012 @ 05:07 PM
Wednesday April 25th will mark the beginning of a truly historic moment in the current debacle that is the U.S. immigration debate. The Supreme Court will begin hearing oral arguments for and against Arizona's extreme anti-immigrant law Senate Bill 1070. The law, which was passed in the summer of 2010, was soon enjoined by a federal district court, essentially barring it from taking effect. If put into effect, SB1070 would have:
- required local law enforcement to verify immigration status in any lawful stop, detention or arrest any time they have "reasonable suspicion" that someone is unlawfully present (Racial profiling, anyone?)
- made it a state crime for immigrants not to carry their papers proving they are here legally with them at all times (I personally know green card holders who are here perfectly legally, but lost their physical copy of their green card and are waiting for the government to mail them a new one…what about those kind of people? And for U.S. citizens who happen to be have brown skin? Who's to say that police officers wouldn't wrongly arrest them for not having their "immigration papers" that they don't have nor need in the first place?)
- given law enforcement officers the power to make warrantless arrests solely based on suspicions of someone being the country illegally (Again, how exactly do you enforce that one without racial profiling??....and, warrantless arrests? Really?)
Following in Arizona's Footsteps
Since the passage of SB1070, many other states have introduced and passed similar legislation including Georgia, South Carolina, Utah and Indiana. Alabama's infamous HB56, which went into effect last September, was said to be even more extreme than Arizona's bill. Among other things, HB56 required teachers to check the status of their students and criminalized business transactions with undocumented persons. This caused 2,000 Hispanic students to stop showing up for school and landlords around the state to ask for IDs from their tenants before they would turn their water back on. Other state legislatures have introduced anti-immigrant legislation but not yet passed it including Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Missouri. Mississippi recently had an anti immigrant law, HB 488, that passed their House but has yet to come up in their Senate (there is still a chance that it could pass this legislative term).
Why is this particular Supreme Court decision so historic? Essentially, whatever happens to Arizona's anti-immigrant law will happen to the anti-immigrant laws in other states.
If the Supreme Court rules that Arizona is allowed to pass its own immigration law and enforce immigration on the state and local level, all of the other states that have already passed or are considering such laws will no longer have to face a lawsuit from the federal Department of Justice challenging their law. It would essentially mean a patchwork of state immigration laws in which literally "existing while undocumented" is a state crime (although it's technically only a civil matter, not a criminal one, under federal law).
On the other hand, if the Supreme Court rules that Arizona's law is unconstitutional and that it is only under the federal government's jurisdiction to enforce immigration laws, it would mean that other state anti-immigrant laws are unconstitutional as well. And it will send a message to states that have been considering similar legislation that state legislators will only be consciously wasting tax payer dollars by voting for anti-immigrant laws, knowingly stepping right into a lawsuit with the federal government for which taxpayers will foot the bill.
There is a prayer vigil and protest going on in order to create awareness and encourage media coverage of this historic event. It will start Monday morning April 23 and continue until mid-day Wednesday April 25 right outside of the U.S. Supreme Court building on First Ave in DC. We need Quakers to participate! The official Quaker prayer vigil will be Monday April 23 from 12Noon until 2pm...the more people we have participating the stronger our statement for immigrant justice! To confirm that you will be in front of the Supreme Court at that time and for more information, please contact Melanie Fox at email@example.com and/or RSVP on Facebook for the event by clicking here! (There is also an online vigil for those outside of the DC area.)
Comprehensive Immigration Reform
FCNL, along with our colleagues in the faith community and immigrant rights activists across the nation, will be holding our breath for the Supreme Court decision. Until then, we continue on in la lucha (the struggle), as our Latino friends would say, to advocate for immigration reform at the federal level.
Huffington Post: With SB 1070 on Deck, Supreme Court Decision Will Be a Game-Changer
National Immigration Law Center: The Upcoming Supreme Court Hearing on SB 1070 - WHAT'S AT PLAY
Immigration Impact: Supreme Court Flooded with Briefs Opposing Arizona SB 1070
Legal Action Center, American Immigration Council: Arizona SB 1070, Legal Challenges and Economic Realities
Immigration Policy Center, American Immigration Council: A Q&A Guide to State Immigration Laws: What You Need to Know if Your State Is Considering Anti-Immigrant Legislation
Center for American Progress: The 10 Numbers You Need to Know About Alabama's Anti-Immigrant Law
National Council of La Raza: NCLR report shows states that pass anti-immigrant laws pay a high cost