The ongoing national debate on immigration reached a fever
pitch on July 28, when U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton blocked some of the more draconian provisions of Arizona�s
controversial anti-immigrant law (SB 1070), which was scheduled to take effect
the following day.
Judge Bolton blocked a section requiring police officers to
question and verify the immigration status of anyone �reasonably� suspected of
being an illegal alien. She also blocked a section requiring immigrants to
carry their papers at all times.
The ruling is in response to lawsuits by the U.S. Justice
Department and a coalition of civil rights groups including the American Civil
Liberties Union (ACLU), the Mexican American Legal Defense & Educational
Fund (MALDEF), the National Immigration Law Center (NILC), the Asian Pacific
American Legal Center (APALC), and the National Association for the Advancement
of Colored People (NAACP).
The coalition�s lawsuit challenged SB 1070 on human rights
grounds. According to the ACLU, �the law would subject massive numbers of people
-- both citizens and non-citizens -- to racial profiling, improper
investigations, and detention.�
Fortunately, Judge Bolton gets it.
But the law�s proponents apparently don�t care about human
rights. It seems as if they just want to crack down on the brown people. Their
fear and bigotry are misplaced, dangerous, and sometimes deadly. And they have
already filed an appeal.
In the meantime, human rights groups are weighing in on the
Julie Su, litigation director for APALC, commended Judge
Bolton�s ruling: �We applaud the judge for seeing the imminent danger of having
this law enacted,� said Su. �SB 1070 presents a distinct and separate
immigration scheme that conflicts with federal law and policy, and would have a
devastating impact on Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, Latinos, and other
people of color in Arizona. Indeed, some of those negative effects have already
been felt. This ruling makes clear that intimidation of immigrant communities,
pretextual stops to ask for �papers,� and rhetoric about who belongs in Arizona
and who doesn�t under the guise of enforcing SB 1070 should cease immediately.�
But the whole bill must go, said Allison Parker, U.S.
program director at Human Rights Watch: �The federal court ruling throws a
monkey wrench, at least temporarily, into the worst parts of a discriminatory
law,� said Parker. �In truth, Arizona needs to repeal the whole thing, and
similar bills under consideration in other states should be defeated.�
And Lory Rosenberg, advocacy and policy director for refugee
and immigration rights for Amnesty International USA, painted a grim picture of
the law�s implications if ultimately allowed to stand in its entirety: �Laws
like SB 1070 don�t just threaten human rights and fly in the face of the United
States� obligations under international law. They also flagrantly disregard the
Constitutional rights of immigrants who have or are eligible for lawful status,�
said Rosenberg. �What makes this so frightening is that anyone who �looks like
an immigrant� in Arizona, including a U.S. citizen, is likely to be treated as
suspicious and will be detained indefinitely while the state conducts a document
Like Gitmo in Phoenix.
And such could be the fate of any non-white persons who dare
to appear in public in Arizona if Judge Bolton�s ruling is overturned.
Hopefully the appeals court will see things from Judge
Bolton�s perspective, and rights and humanity will again manage to trump
bigotry and fear.
And hopefully Washington will soon deter any further
Arizona-style state measures by enacting some intelligent and practical
immigration reform based on rights, compassion, and opportunity.
After all, the Statue of Liberty is still standing. And she
still invites the world to �give me your . . . huddled masses yearning to
Mary Shaw is a Philadelphia-based writer and
activist, with a focus on politics, human rights, and social justice. She is a
former Philadelphia Area Coordinator for the Nobel-Prize-winning human rights
group Amnesty International, and her views appear regularly in a variety of
newspapers, magazines, and websites. Note that the ideas expressed here are the
author�s own, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Amnesty
International or any other organization with which she may be associated.