Arizona’s Immigration Law: 3 Sections Down, 1 to Go

June 27, 2012

Immigrant rights activists
Immigrant rights activists participate in the annual May Day rally. AFP PHOTO / Robyn Beck/Getty Images

This week, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) delivered its ruling on four sections of SB 1070, more than two years after Arizona’s discriminatory immigration bill was signed into law.

In a 5-3 decision, the Court struck down provisions criminalizing the acts of failing to carry immigration papers, seeking or performing work as an undocumented migrant, and provisions allowing police to arrest without warrant anyone suspected of committing a crime that could lead to deportation.

The fact that these provisions will not be able to take effect is a victory for immigrants’ rights activists and those fighting the draconian immigration laws that have been popping up in various parts of the country. Unfortunately, the good news is somewhat overshadowed by the fact that for Latinos and visible migrant communities in Arizona, the chances of being racially profiled have been both increased and de facto legitimized by this decision.

Joe Watkins, the Amnesty International Area Coordinator for Arizona, said of the judgment:

‘Immigration law, like all law, should be transparent. Individuals should know whether or not they are in compliance with the law. The intent of SB 1070 was to create ambiguity. Today’s Supreme Court ruling affirms this. Justice Kennedy wrote, “There is a basic uncertainty about what the law means and how it will be enforced.” In upholding some provisions of the law, the Court is shifting the burden to overstretched local law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, and courts. After a few arrests, we will learn what is just and what is unjust. Until, then, don’t bother the Supreme Court. The fundamental dynamic remains: state and federal law continue to conspire to create a labyrinth that serves to instill fear and strip the dignity of from a large segment of our population.’

Many organizations, including the ACLU, have vowed to continue the legal fight against the remaining provisions, and other state laws that violate the human rights of our migrant, undocumented or Latino populations. The legal challenges are necessary and important, but they’re not enough. Amnesty International will continue to work with our allies and friends in Arizona, Georgia, Alabama and other states in fighting these unjust laws. Whether the NYPD uses racial profiling to target African-American young men, or the FBI uses it to target Muslim and Arab members of our society, or the law enforcement authorities in Arizona use it to target Latinos and other visible minorities, the effects are the same: communities feeling afraid and under siege, mistrust of law enforcement generating a heap of challenges, and the human rights of many trampled upon.

So what can you do? Join Amnesty International in standing up for immigrants’ rights against racial profiling! Apply to become an Immigrants’ Rights Advocate today and lead the battle for immigrants’ rights! Let us know you’re interested by sending your name, city, state, and email address to: [email protected].