Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

June 25, 2012

US Supreme Court upholds racial profiling

US Supreme Court upholds targeting people of color in Arizona

By Brenda Norrell
Censored News

TUCSON -- The US Supreme Court upheld racial profiling in its ruling on Arizona's SB 1070, while striking out other provisions. In reality this means that all people of color are targeted by Arizona police.

Jose  Matus, Yaqui and director of the Indigenous Alliance without Borders, responds to US Supreme Court decision
Jose Matus said, "All alien looking people and people of color, we must resist, with non-violent rebellion against SB1070 and work in solidarity with Derechos Humanos to repeal the High Court Decision on SB1070!"
"Should we be subjected to racial profiling? Should we be stopped and questioned. detained and charged with a state crime because we don't carry a passport to prove we are citizens, because we are Red, Brown or Mexican?" Matus, Yaqui ceremonial leader in South Tucson, told Censored News.
Matus said that the Indigenous Alliance Without Borders will, in partnership with the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, document abuse of authority and violation of rights. He said the Alliance will work closely with Derechos Humanos and all other community organizations to promote respect for human rights, Indigenous rights and immigrant rights.
The next Alianza Indigena Sin Fronteras meeting is in Phoenix, Saturday, July 7, 2012, at 10 am. The International Day of the World Indigenous People will be August 9, 2012.
Mike Wilson, Tohono O'odham, responds to Supreme Court decision

Mike Wilson, who has put out water for migrants for years, said, "Despite today’s' Supreme Court decision in favor of the provision upheld by the State of Arizona, S.B. 1070 remains an immoral law. Like the Supreme Court's 1896 decision in Plessy Vs. Ferguson that ruled in favor of racial segregation and state apartheid, history will judge this decision as equally immoral."
Wilson is the policy director for Border Action Network and spent years putting out water for migrants on Tohono O'odham land, where the largest number of migrants have died in recent years. The Tohono O'odham Nation passed a law making it a crime to aid a migrant, even giving a drink of water to a dying person. Now, the dying include Mayan women and their children, walking from Guatemala, Chiapas and Oaxaca to survive.

Amnesty International responds to Supreme Court decision on Arizona law on immigration enforcement SB 1070
Contact: Sharon Singh,, 202-675-8579, @spksingh
By Amnesty International
Posted at Censored News
WASHINGTON – Frank Jannuzi, the head of Amnesty International’s Washington office, issued the following statement in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to strike down major provisions of Arizona’s controversial immigration enforcement law, commonly known as SB 1070:
“Amnesty International welcomes the Court’s decision that the ‘right to work’ and possible criminal penalties for not carrying immigration documents provisions of SB 1070 are invalid because they encroach on federal responsibilities on enforcing immigration laws."
“However, we are disappointed that the Court failed to draw a clearer line in the sand against racial profiling. This leaves the door open for continued challenges as ambiguities in implementation still exist.”
Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.

Response from Border Action Network
JUNE 25, 2012
Border Action Network Statement Regarding the Supreme Court Rulings on Arizona S.B.1070
Border Action Network would like to share with you some of the comments from members of our organization and other organizations that are responding to the Supreme Court ruling.
The Court’s decision to reserve judgment on the discriminatory racial profiling provision, Section 2(b), comes at a tremendous human cost, because the rights of all Arizonans will be violated while this issue is resolved.
But we are confident that all of this law and others like it will ultimately be struck down as discriminatory racial profiling, as preempted by federal law, or both.
Although we are disappointed that the racial profiling provision has been allowed to take effect, importantly, the Supreme Court’s decision recognizes that the provision could cause constitutional problems and may violate federal law.
The Supreme Court also stated that if the law is interpreted to prolong detention it would be unconstitutional. In our lawsuit challenging Arizona’s S.B. 1070 we have raised precisely this constitutional challenge—as well as others—to the racial profiling provision. The Supreme Court’s decision leaves open legal challenges on these bases.
Border Action Network and other organizations will continue to press forward with our litigation, which raises such challenges. We will not rest until this unconstitutional provision is permanently stricken from Arizona’s law books.
The Supreme Court did not address the impact of S.B. 1070 on Arizonans or the harm that people in Arizona will suffer from S.B. 1070. We have real concerns that we will be guarding against as we move forward.
2(b) is wrong and/or immoral.
The Supreme Court has expressed reservations and concerns about section 2(b) given the limitations it placed on it.
There are potential constitutional problems with section 2(b) down the road.
Though making an effort to limit the opportunities for racial profiling, the Supreme Court still upheld one of S.B. 1070’s central and most offensive provisions, the requirement that law enforcement officers demand proof of legal status from anyone they suspect is undocumented. This “papers please” provision will directly lead to racial and ethnic profiling based on the way people look or the way they speak, regardless of whether they have been American citizens all of their lives.
Still, today’s ruling was narrow in that the Court only concluded that federal law did not pre-empt states from enacting these “papers please” laws. Lawsuits challenging the provision on racial profiling grounds will continue to be litigated, and we are confident that the measure will ultimately be struck down. Unfortunately, the Court’s ruling today means that while we await that future decision, the fundamental rights of all Americans living in those states will be degraded.
This decision is still a setback to civil rights in America, but it is not a defeat. The civil rights and immigrant rights communities will continue to fight against laws like S.B. 1070 in the courts, in state legislatures, and in Congress. These measures don’t exist in a vacuum. As recent polling shows, Latino voters are paying close attention to the court’s ruling, and a majority believes the decision will contribute to a hostile environment for Latinos. Moreover laws like these hurt our community, compromise our safety, bankrupt economies, and undermine our national unity, so it is not surprising that the rush to follow Arizona down this treacherous road has stalled. States that were considering copycat measures in 2012 all took a pass after seeing how costly and socially divisive these laws are.
The three components of the law that have been struck down are as follows:
Make it a state crime for undocumented immigrants not to possess their federal registration cards
Make it a crime for undocumented immigrants to work, apply for work, or solicit work
Allow state and local police to arrest illegal immigrants without a warrant when probable cause exists that they committed ‘any public offense that makes the person removable from the United States’
The court did uphold the “papers, please” provision, which requires state and local police to check the immigration status of people they’ve stopped if deemed “reasonably suspicious.”
The following are comments from our staff:
Juanita Molina, Executive Director
We will continue to advocate for the people of Arizona in the face of this law. We are a community that spans across international borders. No one's humanity should cease to be recognized at the border.
Racial profiling undermines the relationship between the community and law enforcement. This law puts undue burden on law enforcement and ultimately contradicts their primary purpose, which is to protect and serve this community.
Mike Wilson, Policy Director:
Despite today’s' Supreme Court decision in favor of the provision upheld by the State of Arizona, S.B. 1070 remains an immoral law. Like the Supreme Court's 1896 decision in Plessy Vs. Ferguson that ruled in favor of racial segregation and state apartheid, history will judge this decision as equally immoral.
Julissa Villa, Organizing Coordinator:
Disappointment, that's what I felt as I heard the decision of the Supreme Court in favor of the provision upholding the State of Arizona. Throughout history we have celebrated the integrity and wisdom of the Supreme Court in our country. We are saddened by their decision.
General staff comments ON THE PROVISION UPHELD:
We are very disappointed that State rights trump Federal law on this provision.
We are moving from a country that is based on Federalism and has a Central government - to a confederation.
We believe we are going backwards as a country towards disintegration.
 Our Community will live in fear of law enforcement.
Oppressive practices make law enforcement less effective.
This will obstruct daily function of law enforcement with unreasonable practices.
As plaintiffs in the civil rights coalition's challenge to the law we will continue to fight it on the grounds that S.B. 1070 violates our constitutionally protected civil rights.

NNIRR's Response to the US Supreme Court Ruling on Arizona's SB 1070:
Court Ruling Invites More Racial Profiling in Arizona
Need to Ensure Rights, End Discrimination against 'Reasonably Suspicious' (Brown) People
In allowing the notorious "show me your papers" provision of Arizona's SB 1070 bill, the U.S. Supreme Court effectively supports the rollback of rights and protections that have been long fought for and honored in this country -- specifically,  the freedom from racial discrimination. Importantly, the Court struck down the other three provisions that had been challenged in the case.
Ruling on whether or not the "show me your papers" provision (Section 2B) "pre-empted" federal authority in immigration, the highest court in the country decided it was "premature" to block it. However, we are alarmed that this provision, very much the heart of SB 1070, can only be implemented through racial profiling.
The provision requires state and local law enforcement to determine the immigration status of any person lawfully stopped, detained or arrested whenever there is "reasonable suspicion" that the person may be undocumented, and to verify that person's status with the federal government.
As an Arizona community leader has pointed out, "and we know what 'reasonable suspicion' is: brown skin."
Although the ruling left open the potential for legal challenges on the implementation of the law, we are deeply concerned, in the meantime, about the rights and protections of our communities in Arizona. Already, it has been the practice of police in the Tucson sector to "hold" people they have stopped for 20 minutes until they can make contact with a federal agent - not a problem given that there are literally thousands of Border Patrol agents constantly milling around, particularly with the decrease in cross border migration. This practice will undoubtedly increase the number of immigrants who are being detained and deported simply because they were driving their children to school, going to a grocery store, or just going about their daily lives.
While the ruling, overall, reaffirmed that the federal government has the exclusive authority to regulate immigration, we cannot forget that it was the federal government's introduction of programs such as 287g (authorizing local and state policing agencies to engage in immigration enforcement) and Secure Communities that laid the groundwork for state initiatives like SB 1070.
SB 1070 was just one of many divisive pieces of state legislation (like the 'stand your ground' law) drafted by ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council and promoted by conservative policymakers, who claimed the federal authorities were not doing enough to "stop illegal immigration." While states may avoid legislative language that was struck down by the Supreme Court, more copycat bill efforts may be renewed that are centered on the "show me your papers" provision.
The Supreme Court ruling, as well as the temporary nature of the recent reprieve from deportation for some young immigrants, continue to point to the need for a fair and just legalization program that will ensure access to rights and freedom from the fear of deportation for undocumented immigrants. We will continue to challenge anti-immigrant state laws and punitive federal enforcement programs like Secure Communities that result in detentions, record-level deportations and the separation of families.
As strategies to resist the effects of SB 1070 are underway in Arizona and elsewhere, we join our members in Arizona in calling for a repeal of SB 1070 in its entirety and urge vigilance in the monitoring of SB 1070 as it is implemented. We further call on President Obama to take all necessary steps to protect the communities of Arizona and other states from the scourge of racial discrimination, harassment, and abuse and to commit to humane, fair and durable immigration reforms.
For background material and resources on the Supreme Court ruling and SB 1070, please see our blog here.

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