SB 1070 court ruling: An "important but partial victory"

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July 10th march in Boston

Statement from the ANSWER Coalition

Today’s decision by the U.S. District Court barring key provisions of the racist, anti-immigrant law SB 1070 is an important but partial victory.

The court decision comes on the eve of the implementation of the Arizona law and as demonstrators are assembling in Phoenix and elsewhere throughout the country. The ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Susan Bolton comes after weeks of intense mobilization, demonstrations and street rallies in states throughout the country. Following the decision by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer to sign SB 1070 into law, a Boycott Arizona movement has spread from coast to coast. The court’s decision will undoubtedly be challenged. This is all the more reason to intensify the mobilization of the people, in Arizona and everywhere.

Ironically, the preliminary injunction was granted in response to a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Justice Department. The Obama administration, while opposing the Arizona law, has carried out a record number of deportations – far more than were carried out during the last two years of the Bush administration in 2007 and 2008.

The U.S. District Court today granted a preliminary injunction against key provisions of the law. They include:

  • The requirement that police officers in Arizona investigate the immigration status of anyone arrested in the state if the police officers “suspect” that the individuals are in the country illegally. This provision institutionalized racial profiling against Latinos and all people of color.
  • The imposition of criminal penalties for any non-citizen in Arizona who failed to carry their immigration documents with them or for all immigrants failing to register with the Department of Homeland Security.
  • The mandatory arrest of anyone who had been detained for even the most minor offense that would usually result in a ticket or citation, if that individual could not verify that they are legally authorized to be in the United States.
  • The allowance of police to arrest individuals, even without an arrest warrant, if they are deemed by police officers to be removable from the United States.
  • The creation of a new category making it a crime for undocumented immigrants to be employed in the state of Arizona.

SB 1070 will go into effect tomorrow, but without the provisions of the law that are barred by the preliminary injunction.

The ANSWER Coalition has been deeply involved in the organization of today’s and tomorrow’s demonstrations protesting SB 1070 in Phoenix, Arizona, and in all of the earlier demonstrations in Arizona and around the country.

Without the mobilization of people in the streets throughout the country, the reactionary and racist forces that pushed this law through in Arizona would have succeeded. Moreover, state legislatures throughout the country are watching Arizona with an eye to the outcome of this battle. If this clearly unconstitutional law could take effect in Arizona, racist bigots will eagerly try to pass similar measures in states throughout the country.

The Obama administration’s decision to file a lawsuit against the Arizona law was the consequence of the pressure it felt from an outraged and mobilized population that is demanding the overturn of this racist law. Judge Bolton’s decision today is in response to a number of lawsuits, including one filed by the U.S. Justice Department.

The Obama administration, however, has greatly intensified the arrest and deportation of immigrant workers since it took office in January 2009. As the Washington Post of July 26 reported, “[T]he Obama administration is deporting record numbers of illegal immigrants and auditing hundreds of businesses that blithely hire undocumented workers. The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency expects to deport about 400,000 people this fiscal year, nearly 10 percent above the Bush administration's 2008 total and 25 percent more than were deported in 2007. The pace of company audits has roughly quadrupled since President George W. Bush's final year in office.”

We will continue to organize in the streets and support efforts in the courts to overturn SB 1070 and all federal, state and local laws that criminalize undocumented workers and promote racial profiling against Latinos and other people of color. It is not enough to allow the Obama administration to formally oppose SB 1070 in Arizona while engaging in mass deportations and arrests of immigrant workers.

Instead of mass deportations, the Obama administration should support comprehensive immigration reform that gives millions of super-exploited immigrant workers full legal rights.

Click here to see details of events planned in Phoenix and around the country.

 

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