SCOTUS Immigration Decision: A Mixed Bag for Immigrants and Refugees

On Monday, June 25, 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in Arizona v. United States, a challenge to the constitutionality of Arizona’s controversial racial profiling law, SB 1070. This was a strong decision that, for the most part, rejected Arizona’s overreach in legislating state laws on immigration. By a 5-3 margin, the Supreme Court ruled that much of Arizona’s attempt to take federal law into its own hands is unconstitutional. The ruling largely affirms that this law not only violated our constitution, but our national values and interests as well.

And while it’s good news that most parts of the Arizona law were struck down, it is also deeply disappointing that one dangerous provision—-Section 2(B)–was left in place. This provision inevitably will lead to racial profiling and harassment of people based on what they look like and how they speak, even if they were born in America. There is reason to believe this law and others like it will ultimately be struck down as discriminatory racial profiling (that door was left open in the ruling),but the Court’s failure to postpone a final decision on this provision is a grave mistake. There is every likelihood that the rights of Arizonans will be violated while this issue is resolved.

There are steps that can be taken now to right this wrong.  Congress must pass the End Racial Profiling Act—legislation that would protect people from this highly ineffective practice. And the Obama Administration must take strong steps to oppose the implementation of Section 2(B).   Alliance for a Just Society and its partners should consider ways to make it clear to anti-immigrant law enforcement agencies that they will face determined litigation should they attempt to use the ambiguities in the Court’s decision to use racial profiling. These agencies need to be deterred from their anti-minority zeal.  And legislators who continue to press immigration issues as a matter of state prerogative need to understand that immigration policy clearly is a federal matter beyond their jurisdiction.

Alliance for a Just Society stands united with immigrants across the country who demand comprehensive immigration reform, the only real solution to this problem. The path forward is to make our voices heard everywhere, including at the ballot box. Our collective votes in November can be the great equalizer. AJS is committed to continuing support for the civic engagement work of our affiliates, registering voters and electing leaders who will fight for equal protection of the law on behalf of people of color and immigrant communities across the country.

Related links:

Center for Intercultural Organizing statement on SCOTUS decision:

Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada:

Channel 2 News

Channel 4 News

Statement from the Nevada Immigrant Coalition



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