The United States Supreme Court just ruled most of the Arizona anti-immigrant SB 1070 law unconstitutional. In ruling, the Court specified that it was only answering the question of whether states have the right to impose immigration control laws that have normally been under the purview of the federal government.
The answer is no, they do not have that right. The Court did leave one very important part of the law that deals with the so-called “show me your papers” in effect because this is more about civil rights that have not been violated because the law has not been activated.
Immigrant rights organizations have already challenged that part of the law because it is a civil rights issue cloaked in immigration policy. The Supreme Court may very well be reviewing what is left of SB 1070 on the grounds that enforcement requires racial profiling that is against the law and the Constitution.
One of the major arguments of the anti-immigrant groups is that we are a nation of laws and that we must abide by what is passed in legislation and signed by a governor and/or the president of the United States. What happens however, with bad laws?
What just happened to Arizona SB 1070 is what happens to bad laws. It is the vigilance of Americans that keeps Arizona SB 1070 and its copycat equivalents in places like Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina and Utah from tormenting a Latino community and inhibiting the drive toward its destiny.
Arizona’s SB 1070 and its counterparts in other states go to the core of what it is to be an American in a time of great economic and demographic stress. The social and legal initiatives against Latino immigrants constitute at best an insult to all Latinos and at worst a violation of our constitutional rights.
How did we get to the point where anti-Latino hate groups have come out of the closet to become an important part of the political mainstream? How is it that the Latino community in Arizona, which appears to be strong on civic engagement, allowed hate to derail the dreams of so many hard working people?
Daniel Ortega, the past Chair of the National Council of the Raza Board of Directors and who is from Arizona has a take on why that is. He feels that Latinos in Arizona got lulled into a sense of security by the demographic changes that generated an increased number and percentage of Latinos in the state.
Political reaction to the growth of the Latino community in Arizona took shape early with laws like English Only, doing away with bilingual education and instituting anti-fraud voting legislation that limit Latino access to the voting booths. These incremental attacks on the Latino community continued with no consequences for the perpetrators.
The emboldened group was able to get to Gov. Jan Brewer’s desk Arizona SB 1070 for her signature and cast a law into trouble waters that have done so much damage around the country. Ortega blames the false sense of security on the part of the Latino community for the lack of effective civic engagement to prevent the passing of a bad law.
In a recent panel discussion, Todd Landfried, executive director of the Arizona Employers for Immigration Reform stated that his organization has documented the falsehood of 88.7 percent of the negative information about Latino immigrants and the undocumented nationally and 92 percent in Arizona. The point is that words do matter and so does perception.