SB 1070 Decried on Anniversary of Passage

April 23, 2011

Adela de la Torre, 213-400-7822 or [email protected]

Civil Rights Leaders, Plaintiffs, and Litigators Decry Arizona’s Racial Profiling Law

WASHINGTON — Plaintiffs in the lawsuits against Arizona’s SB 1070 and Georgia’s HB 87 brought by the National Immigration Law Center (NILC) and others described havoc already wreaked upon their states by anti-immigrant legislation that has thus far been blocked in the courts. The plaintiffs participated in a press conference with civil rights leaders and litigators who observed the second anniversary of the passage of SB 1070 and discussed the upcoming Supreme Court hearing on the law’s constitutionality. The press conference was moderated by Lisa Navarrete of the National Council of La Raza (NCLR).

“The last two years have shown us that the politics of divisiveness, though perhaps politically expedient, only serve to tear apart communities, sow anger, and burden taxpayers,” said Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center. “Today, two years after SB 1070’s passage, we have finally begun to see states reject this sort of negative legislation. We hope states will continue to dismiss laws such as SB 1070 as myopic at best and economically catastrophic at worst.”

When SB 1070, Arizona’s racial profiling law, passed, it was considered the most draconian anti-immigrant measure in the country. NILC and a coalition of civil rights organizations, as well as the federal government, sued to block the most pernicious elements of the law from going into effect.

Luz Santiago, a pastor in Mesa, Arizona, and a plaintiff in Friendly House v. Whiting, the civil rights coalition’s challenge to SB 1070, noted that, despite the fact that most of SB 1070’s provisions have been blocked, Latino Arizonans still have felt the law’s sting.

“Legislators in Arizona created a racial trickle-down effect after passing SB 1070, without realizing the impact it would have on the community,” said Santiago. “Arizona has been divided along ethnic lines. This isn’t the Arizona I knew for so many years. This shouldn’t be the Arizona we are today.”

In 2011, five states—Utah, Indiana, Georgia, Alabama, and South Carolina—passed their own versions of SB 1070. In each state except Alabama, NILC and partners successfully sued to block major elements of each law from going into effect. However, the court in the Alabama case allowed several of the Alabama law’s worst provisions, including its infamous “show me your papers” provision, to go into effect on September 28, 2012.

“Laws like SB 1070 are a lose-lose proposition for states. Instead of boosting our economy, they leave crops rotting in the fields. Instead of promoting civility and neighborliness, they incite division and mistrust,” said Paul Bridges, mayor of Uvalda, Georgia, and a plaintiff in the civil rights challenge to HB 87, the state’s racial profiling law. “Federal legislators must stop scapegoating our immigrant communities and start focusing on creating legislation that reflects our nation’s values of fairness and opportunity.”

“While the Supreme Court will focus on the issue of whether state laws are preempted by federal immigration laws, this case poses more fundamental questions for everyone,” said Laura W. Murphy, director of the ACLU’s Washington Legislative Office. “Will we tolerate a police state that requires everyone to carry identification documents at all times?  We must stop discriminatory laws that invite constant police intrusion, encourage racial profiling and compromise the American way of life.”

On Wednesday, the United States Supreme Court will hear oral argument on United States v. Arizona. Whatever the court decides could have implications for the civil rights coalition’s lawsuits in Arizona and other states.

“We are here today to let the Supreme Court, as well as the court of public opinion, know that we will not allow these laws to take us back to the times of black codes when there were two distinct classes of people, and that these groups are treated differently by the law,” said Hilary O. Shelton, the director of the NAACP Washington Bureau and the senior vice president for advocacy and policy.  “We will not return to a time when racial profiling is not only prevalent, it is in fact sanctioned and even called for by the law of the land.”

At issue before the Supreme Court are four provisions of SB 1070: the “show me your papers” provision, which mandates that law enforcement officers demand papers of anyone they “reasonably suspect” is undocumented; the criminalization-of-work provision; the provision creating a statewide noncitizen registration and criminalizing failure to carry one’s “papers”; and a provision authorizing law enforcement officers to arrest without a warrant those they suspect to be guilty of a deportable offense.

For more information about the upcoming Supreme Court Lawsuit, please visit

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