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Court Strikes Down Parts of Arizona’s Anti-Immigrant Law, but Not Racial Profiling Provision

In a strongly worded 5-3 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court today rejected most of Arizona’s controversial anti-immigrant law known as S.B. 1070. But the justices upheld a key portion that AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and Pablo Alvarado, executive director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON), say is:

The law’s most dangerous provision, which gave the green light to discrimination and racial profiling. 

In overturning most of S.B. 1070, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote, “The national government has significant power to regulate immigration…the state may not pursue policies that undermined federal law."

In a joint statement, Trumka and Alvarado say the decision “sends a clear signal to right-wing legislators in Arizona, Alabama and other states that most state anti-immigrant legislation is not only morally wrong but also indisputably unconstitutional.”

But the court let the portion of the law remain that will lead to racial profiling. It allows authorities to demand proof of immigration status when stopping people for traffic or other minor violations.

Arizona AFL-CIO President Rebekah Friend says to let that provision stand is a:

grave error because the rights of Arizona’s working families will be violated and irreparably harmed in the meantime. We have seen firsthand the consequences of such divisive policies: Everyone suffers.  Thousands of jobs have been lost, communities have been disrupted and families have been irreparably divided.

Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.), a member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, says:

I know they will not be using that kind of tactic on people with the last name Roberts, Romney or Brewer, but if your name is something like Gutierrez or Chung or Obama, watch out.

Trumka and Alvarado note that Jim Crow segregation laws targeting African Americans were upheld by generations of Supreme Court rulings.

Despite a hostile court, however, the civil rights movement—with the help of unions—was able to overcome the oppression of Jim Crow laws. Similarly, today we are confident that working people—no matter their race, gender, age or immigration status—can join together to fix our country’s broken immigration system and defend core American ideals and freedoms.

They also urged the Obama administration to “take responsibility to solve the crisis, too, starting with immediate suspension of the infamous ’Secure Communities’ program, an ill-conceived immigration enforcement program launched in 2008 that is essentially the blueprint for Arizona’s racial profiling provision.”  

Click here for more on Secure Communities and here for the full statement.

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