Today, the supreme court heard arguments on the controversial Arizona immigration law SB 1070 -- known as the 'show me your papers' law, which allows police to stop individuals on the street and demand proof of citizenship without probable cause or search warrants.
Cecillia Wang, director of the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project, said: “The Supreme Court heard strong arguments today for rejecting Arizona's radical attempt to turn local police into immigration agents. SB 1070 flies in the face of Congress's decision to put immigration enforcement in federal hands. These state anti-immigrant laws take aim at immigrants, but result in racial profiling and illegal police intrusions. Our nation must stand up against such flawed policies.”
The Obama administration challenged the law in federal court arguing that the law conflicts with federal immigration policy, bringing into question the role of state-rights for immigration law.
Civil rights groups argue that the law ensures racial profiling, ethnic stereotyping, and human rights abuses. Anthony Romero, director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), said it would be a "very dark moment" for the US if the Supreme Court upholds the law, as legally-sanctioned discrimination.
In an interview with Jeff Biggers, immigrant rights advocate Carlos Garcia, argued that while today's arguments will contend over legal jurisdictions, the broader implications of state-based racism and discrimination are not being probed; immigrant voices will not be heard at the proceedings:
"The voices that need to be heard in the SB 1070 debate are those of the people directly placed in the bill's cross-hairs. Our community is tired of being a political football that politicians on both sides kick around to score points for their own reelection. In the neighborhoods of Phoenix and across the state, immigrant communities are organizing to defend and advance their rights in ways that will benefit the entire country. When you defend the rights of those at the bottom, you lift everyone with you."
The court is likely to deliver its ruling in June.
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Associated Press: Supreme Court takes up Arizona immigration law
The Supreme Court is questioning Arizona's tough "show me your papers" law aimed at driving illegal immigrants out of the state, amid objections from the Obama administration that states have a limited role to play in immigration policy.
The court's review of the Arizona law includes a provision that requires police, while enforcing other laws, to question a person's immigration status if officers suspect he is in the country illegally. In the final argument of the term Wednesday, the justices will explore whether lower federal courts were right to block that and other key provisions.
The administration challenged the law in federal court soon after Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed it two years ago. Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, South Carolina and Utah passed similar laws, parts of which also are on hold pending the high court's decision.
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Agence France-Presse: Supreme Court to review Arizona immigration law
After three days of hearings on President Barack Obama's landmark health reform law last month, the court will again examine the separation of federal and state powers when it looks at the legality of Arizona's identity checks.
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The top US court announced in December that it would review the 2010 law in the southwestern state, which would allow police to stop suspected illegal immigrants and demand proof of citizenship without probable cause.
The law -- portions of which have been suspended after court challenges by the Obama administration -- is among several pieces of state legislation that the White House says infringe on the federal government's authority.
The court is likely to deliver its rulings on both the immigration and the health care cases in June -- just a few months before voters go to the polls to decide whether Obama should be given a second term. [...]
Anthony Romero, director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), said it would be a "very dark moment" for US jurisprudence if the Supreme Court upholds the law, paving the way for legally-sanctioned discrimination.
"For the first time they would allow law enforcement to use the color of your skin, your race, your ethnicity... It's a law that is very Draconian," he told AFP.
"This case has huge implications for law enforcement and for civil rights. If the Supreme Court decides the wrong way, it's going to be a battle all over the country, state after state," Romero said.
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Jeff Biggers / Huffington Post: At Supreme Court, Arizona Leaves Affected Voices at Home: Q & A With Carlos Garcia, Puente Human Rights Advocate
For immigrant rights advocates like Carlos Garcia, director of the Phoenix-based Puente human rights organization that advocates for migrant justice, something even more is at risk: the core values of our American constitution and ways.
A couple of thousands of miles away from the Supreme Court chambers, Puente will lead protests tomorrow in Phoenix, along with other national efforts in support of immigrant rights.
I caught up with Garcia by email and asked him a few questions on how he views the proceedings in Washington, D.C., and back at home on Arizona's immigration frontlines.
Jeff Biggers: At a Ccngressional hearing on SB 1070 today, former Sen. Russell Pearce addressed Arizona's legislation, along with former US Dennis DeConcini, D-Ariz., Arizona state Sen. Steve Gallardo, and Todd Landfried, executive director of Arizona Employers for Immigration Reform. How do you think a testimony from an undocumented day laborer would have added to the hearing, in terms of daily realities and impacts of SB 1070?
Carlos Garcia: The voices that need to be heard in the SB 1070 debate are those of the people directly placed in the bill's crosshairs. Our community is tired of being a political football that politicians on both sides kick around to score points for their own reelection. In the neighborhoods of Phoenix and across the state, immigrant communities are organizing to defend and advance their rights in ways that will benefit the entire country. When you defend the rights of those at the bottom, you lift everyone with you. When you defend the rights of anyone else, you leave someone behind. Immigrants are not valuable simply because we grow the crops in this country. Hearing from those on the front line would add the value of recognizing immigrants' humanity and our capacity of visionaries who under the hardest of circumstances are rescuing democracy and justice from agents of intolerance in the state. [...]
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