Along Racial Lines: The Genesis of Arizona’s SB 1070 Is a Cautionary Tale of Race-based Immigration Policy

The Genesis of Arizona’s SB 1070 Is a Cautionary Tale of Race-based Immigration Policy


For the authors and supporters of Arizona’s most notorious anti-immigrant law, SB 1070, the existence of the United States as a nation was being threatened by unauthorized immigration. Specifically, this threat was understood to come from immigrants entering the U.S. from Mexico. Their argument claimed that the nation could be saved from this threat only through the strict and punitive enforcement of the country’s immigration laws, even by way of flagrant racial profiling. Using the words of the very individuals who authored SB 1070—and of those who share that worldview—this report unmasks the underlying racism that motivated such an egregious law.

The civil rights groups that sued to try to prevent SB 1070 from being enforced recently settled their lawsuit with Arizona authorities, just as the nation is embroiled in a public conversation that feels eerily reminiscent of private musings among SB 1070’s most ardent supporters. The email excerpts in this report provide just a few examples of why Americans should be alarmed by the motives behind Arizona’s law and laws cast from its mold.

SB 1070 serves as a cautionary tale. Those who have lived through the daily realities of SB 1070 in Arizona know how much damage the law has caused communities across the state and recognize that it should not be replicated on a national level. Recently, the editorial board of the conservative Arizona Republic newspaper publicly reflected on SB 1070’s negative implications for the country: “Arizona understands that we don’t need a repeat of that divisive, unproductive fiasco on the national level” (Sept. 27, 2016).

Download the report by clicking on the PDF icon, above.