Category Archives: July 2012

Federal Court Asked to Block Provision of SB 1070

July 17, 2012

Civil Rights Groups Ask Federal Court to Block Remaining Section of Arizona’s Racial Profiling Law

Damaging Provision of SB 1070 Could Take Effect in a Few Days without Court Action

PHOENIX — A coalition of civil rights organizations today asked a federal district court to block implementation of the “show me your papers” provision of SB 1070, Arizona’s racial profiling law, until the court has had time to consider additional legal claims that the law is unconstitutional.

The civil rights organizations’ lawsuit includes evidence and claims that are not present in the federal government’s separate challenge to SB 1070, on which the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision last month. In its decision, the Supreme Court struck down three other provisions of SB 1070. The Court noted potential constitutional problems with section 2(B), the “show me your papers” provision, but did not strike it down based on the evidence and claims that the federal government brought in its case. The Court noted, however, that other challenges could be brought against the section.

In their motion today, the civil rights groups contend that section 2(B) unlawfully discriminates against Latinos and individuals of Mexican origin. The groups present evidence that legislators who supported the law routinely used false “facts” and discriminatory language and that they intended section 2(B) to impose statewide the racial profiling tactics used by Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County. The groups also introduced new evidence demonstrating that, if it is allowed to go into effect, section 2(B) will violate the U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment and the well established principle, which the Supreme Court reaffirmed in last month’s decision, that federal immigration law preempts state immigration enforcement laws. Finally, the groups ask the district court to block a separate provision of SB 1070 that creates a state crime for “harboring” undocumented individuals, which the Supreme Court’s recent decision makes clear is unconstitutional.

The request was made on behalf of plaintiffs in Valle del Sol, et al. v. Whiting, et al. (formerly known as Friendly House, et al. v. Whiting, et al.), a class action lawsuit challenging SB 1070, which was filed in May 2010.

“Our Constitution protects us from state laws that intend to discriminate based on the color of a person’s skin or her or his nationality,” said Karen Tumlin, managing attorney with the National Immigration Law Center. “The district court should block this hateful provision that threatens countless Arizonans’ basic right to live free from fear of harassment or prolonged detention.”

Police chiefs across the country have long concluded that section 2B could not be implemented in a race-neutral manner. Immigration experts agree that there is no way to determine immigration status based on external or physical characteristics and that police will end up using race and ethnicity to decide who could be in the country without authorization.

“In a state that’s more than 30 percent Latino, requiring police to act as immigration agents is an invitation to racial profiling on a massive scale” said Omar Jadwat, a senior staff attorney with the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project. “Police chiefs and communities know these laws don’t work, and we hope that the courts will continue to block them from going forward.”

“The ‘papers provision’ is unconstitutional and the people of Arizona should not be subject to this law for even a single day,” said Victor Viramontes, MALDEF National Senior Counsel. “This law would result in Latinos being illegally arrested and detained across Arizona.”

The coalition includes NILC, ACLU, MALDEF, the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, the ACLU of Arizona, the Asian Pacific American Legal Center and the Asian American Justice Center, both members of the Asian American Center for Advancing Justice, as well as the NAACP. The law firms of Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP, Altshuler Berzon LLP, and Roush, McCracken, Guerrero, Miller & Ortega are also acting as co-counsel in the case.

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Read the complaint here:


Alabama & the Supreme Court’s SB 1070 Decision

July 2, 2012

Civil Rights Groups: Alabama Must Follow Supreme Court Ruling on Arizona Anti-Immigrant Law and Collect Vital Data

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), the National Immigration Law Center (NILC), and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) are demanding that Alabama’s attorney general ensure the state adheres to last week’s ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that struck down most of Arizona’s anti-immigrant law. With Alabama the only state that has implemented a controversial provision upheld for now, the groups also called on Attorney General Strange to immediately begin collecting data on stops and arrests.

The demands were made in a letter the groups sent to Strange this morning. The letter also demands that Strange issue guidance on enforcement of the law, also known as HB 56, in a manner that conforms to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling last week in Arizona v .United States.

The letter urged the attorney general to clearly explain how his office will ensure that Alabama law enforcement officers will neither engage in racial profiling to enforce these provisions, nor engage in unlawful detention to determine individuals’ immigration status.

“Alabama is now ground zero in this fight against these racist laws,” said Mary Bauer, legal director at the SPLC. “We have already seen evidence that the Alabama law is being enforced in ways that violate the Supreme Court’s ruling. That’s why it is essential that Alabama Attorney General Strange provide clear guidance to law enforcement as to what is and is not permissible.  It is also critical that law enforcement begin collecting this vital data.”

While the Supreme Court ruled much of Arizona’s anti-immigrant law, SB 1070, is unconstitutional, the one provision not blocked by the court was the racial profiling provision, which mandates that police demand “papers” of those they suspect are in the country without authorization.

Despite upholding this provision for now, the court did express significant concern over whether when actually implemented, it would prove to be unconstitutional as well. Unlike other states that have passed anti-immigrant laws, Alabama is the only state that has implemented the “papers please” provision.

“State and local government officials in Alabama are on notice: They cannot detain people based on a suspicion about immigration status,” said Cecillia Wang, director of ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project. “And it is as clear as ever that racial profiling is wrong and illegal. The state attorney general must take swift action to ensure that officers act within the bounds of the U.S. Constitution. If he does not, we will take swift action to defend the basic civil rights of Alabamians.”

In upholding this section, justices expressed concerns that in its implementation, this provision might also prove to be unconstitutional. Anecdotal evidence suggests Alabama’s implementation of the anti-immigrant law has created racial profiling. Collecting data going forward is integral to demonstrate whether the court’s fears are correct.

“The experience in Alabama demonstrates that laws like HB 56 and SB 1070 cannot be implemented in a race-neutral manner,” said Karen Tumlin, mangaging attorney for the National Immigration Law Center. “Ultimately, we believe these laws will not withstand constitutional scrutiny; until then, Attorney General Strange should do everything in his power to prevent additional civil rights abuses.”

The letter noted the following examples of abuse reported to the coalition:

  • In October 2011, an immigrant woman called the police after she was hit by her ex-husband. The police arrived on the scene and arrested the woman, who was unable to show her immigration papers.
  • In November 2011, a family was pulled over by police near Decatur, Ala. Despite the fact that the father (the vehicle’s driver) was a lawful permanent resident and the children were U.S. citizens, the entire family was arrested because the wife/mother was not carrying her immigration documents with her. They were detained for approximately five hours.
  • In February 2012, two Latino men conversing at a gas station in northeastern Alabama were approached by two local police officers. The officers demanded that the men produce “green cards.” When the men could not do so, the officers arrested the men and held them for several days. Neither man was ever charged with a crime.

The coalition will continue to monitor the enforcement of Alabama’s anti-immigrant law for inconsistencies with the Arizona ruling as it awaits a response from the attorney general.

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Exec. Director’s Statement on Supreme Court Decision

June 25, 2012

Adela de la Torre, 213-674-2832 or [email protected]

Statement of Marielena Hincapié, Executive Director of the National Immigration Law Center, on the Decision in Arizona v. United States, June 25, 2012

The Supreme Court’s decision today in Arizona v. United States affirms the longstanding exclusive authority of the federal government to regulate our nation’s immigration laws rather than having a patchwork system of state laws.

Today’s decision sends a clear signal to states and localities that they must work with Congress to enact broad and humane immigration reform, rather than act alone, in order to address the broken immigration system. Misguided attempts like Arizona’s SB 1070 are not only legally wrong but also have caused states economic suffering due to the loss of economic activity, tax revenue and other contributions of immigrants.

Yet we are very concerned that the Court allowed section 2(B) of SB 1070 to be implemented, as it will cause racial profiling of residents of Arizona and flies in the face of our history of protecting the civil rights of every day individuals against abuse of power. We are prepared to move forward with our challenge to this provision in our lawsuit against Arizona, Friendly House v. Whiting, and to defend the civil rights of individuals in the other five states with SB 1070 inspired laws.

We urge Congress and the administration to assert its federal authority and develop a bipartisan solution to immigration reform. All of us must acknowledge that “the history of the United States is in part made of the stories, talents, and lasting contributions of those who crossed oceans and deserts to come here,” as Justice Kennedy stated today. We are stronger as a nation of states united, not divided, and moving forward together.

Declaración de Marielena Hincapié, Directora Ejecutiva del National Immigration Law Center, sobre la decisión en Arizona v. United States, 25 de junio de 2012

La decisión de la Corte Suprema en el caso de Arizona v. United States afirma que solo el gobierno federal puede crear y aplicar las leyes de inmigración del país y que no pueden existir 50 diferentes leyes de inmigración en cada estado.

La decisión de hoy manda un mensaje claro que los estados deben trabajar con el congreso para aprobar una reforma migratoria integral y humana, y no actuar por su propia cuenta. Leyes como la de Arizona han causado un impacto negativo en la economía del estado a causa de la pérdida en actividades económicas, bajos ingresos de impuestos, y la pérdida de otras contribuciones de los inmigrantes. Además, son legalmente incorrectas.

Nos preocupa que la Corte haya autorizado la implementación de la sección 2(B) de la ley SB 1070 porque causará que los residentes de Arizona sean víctimas de discriminación racial. Esto va en contra de nuestra historia que protege los derechos civiles de cada persona en contra el abuso del poder. Estamos preparados para seguir adelante con nuestra demanda legal en contra de Arizona, Friendly House v. Whiting, y continuaremos defendiendo los derechos civiles de las personas en los otros cinco estados que crearon leyes inspiradas por la ley de Arizona.

Pedimos que el congreso y la administración usen su autoridad para desarrollar una reforma migratoria apoyada por los dos partidos políticos. Debemos reconocer que “la historia de los Estados Unidos está hecha por parte de las historias, los talentos y las contribuciones de los que cruzaron océanos y desiertos para llegar a este país,” como dijo el juez Kennedy hoy. Somos una nación mas fuerte unidos que divididos. Debemos seguir adelante juntos.