The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the provision of Arizona’s law SB1070 that allows police to demand identification of individuals whom they suspect might be in their state illegally will have national repercussions.
In a CNN report, Ruben Narrate Jr. crystallizes the real damage to Hispanics in Arizona. “It put a target on a subset of the state’s population based on physical appearance and required them to carry around documents proving their legal residency or U.S. citizenship just in case a police officer stops them and demands to see paperwork.”
He further explains that most of the illegal immigrants have already left and gone to neighboring states to work leaving behind legal immigrants and an American Hispanic population who will bear the burden of “showing their papers” continually as the law is instituted in their state.
The state Senate in New Hampshire Wednesday lent its support to Arizona’s tough immigration law that requires law enforcement to check the legal status of people they stop. Overturning its Internal Affairs Committee, which recommended killing House Concurrent Resolution 2, the Senate on a 15-9 vote and without debate approved the bill. The House had earlier approved the resolution which has the effect of law until the end of the two-year session.
SB1070 Giving Birth to Hispanic Alliances
Protests against SB1070 gave birth to a model of organizing in what is called “Barrio Defense Committees (CDBs).” Neighbors link with neighbors to learn their rights and make collective plans to defend themselves. CDBs exist all over the city of Phoenix, and the model has spread to Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama and other states. Considering the new law is now sanctioned by the U.S Supreme Court in support of proving citizenship status when stopped by police, it’s more about knowing your rights and how to defend them and standing your ground as an American Hispanic citizen. Committees like these will be even more vital as the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s ruling plays out in states around the country.
Federal Government Response
Within hours of the Supreme Court ruling, the Department of Homeland Security cancelled agreements with six Arizona police departments that had deputized some officers on street patrol and given them the right to arrest people suspected of immigration violations. Federal immigration officers will help, but only if doing so conforms to the department’s priorities, including catching repeat violators and identifying and removing those who threaten public safety and national security, the department said. Local police in Arizona will be closely watched by immigrant rights groups who will scrutinize for possible racial profiling. On the other hand, police will likewise be watched by residents who have blamed the federal government for not adequately enforcing the border restrictions and can under immigration law sue the police departments for not enforcing the “show me your papers” provision of the law. A federal hotline was set up for the public to report potential civil rights concerns. The hotline phone number is 1-855-353-1010. The email is: SB1070@usdoj.gov.
Despite the fact that key components of the law were struck down by the Supreme Court, five states – Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, South Carolina and Utah – have adopted variations on Arizona’s law, and more are expected to follow now that the provision to produce documentation of immigration status requirement has been sanctioned by the Supreme Court.
Components Struck Down by the U.S. Supreme Court:
- Authorize police to arrest without a warrant anyone “the officer has probable cause to believe . . . has committed any public offense that makes the person removable from the United States.”
- Making it a state crime for an undocumented person to seek or engage in work.
- Making it a state crime to fail to comply with federal alien-registration requirements.
The racial profiling component of SB1070 remains one of the primary areas of contention with civil rights groups. The ACLU said Monday it has amassed an $8.7 million fund to sue Arizona and other states with so-called “show me your papers” laws, arguing that such laws amount to racial profiling.
“Bring it on,” said ACLU National Director Anthony Romero in a telephone conference call with Fox News Latino. “We will fight you anywhere and everywhere.”
The ruling by the Supreme Court leaves some questions unanswered on how the law would be implemented. The court’s ruling did not address questions that many opponents of the law have raised. For example:
- Which factors may officers consider to develop “reasonable suspicion” that a person is in the country illegally, which triggers the requirement to contact federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents?
- Who determines when it is practical for officers to make contact with ICE?
- How long can an officer detain a suspected undocumented immigrant who is not accused of violating any other state law?
Clearly this is just the beginning of what will be a long process to implement the law, and Arizona police departments will be under scrutiny from both opponents and proponents, which includes the federal government.