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SEVEN NEW LAWSUITS AGAINST ARIZONA’S IMMIGRATION LAW SB 1070

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          SB 1070, an immigration law signed into law by Governor Jan Brewer in April 2010, continues to cause uproar across the country, having far reaching social, legal and economic consequences on the Grand Canyon State of Arizona.  Like an iceberg, the tip above is far smaller than the underlying ice below.  Many protests, lawsuits and boycotts have resulted and claims of challenges to the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, as well as racial profiling results.  On the other side, the anti-immigration groups claim that this law would not be necessary had the U.S. federal government provided the security from kidnapping and drugs coming across the border from Mexico.

          U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit on July 6, 2010 against this law referring to the Supremacy Clause, which declares that any state law that contradicts the federal law is preempted according to the U.S. Constitution, Article VI.  In an effort to guide Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform, President Obama presented on July 1, 2010 the following points to revitalize what he called a broken immigration system. 

  • Require undocumented immigrants to pay a fee for illegally residing in U.S
  • Require them to take English classes
  • Allow them to get in line for legalized status

          Seven new law suits against this Arizona law have been filed since April 2010. U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton will hear the seven law suits that have currently been filed as legal challenges to the new Arizona law.  The seventh law suit by police officers focuses on the “vague and ill-defined factors” to question someone’s legal status. 

          Ten states currently support Arizona’s immigration law and the most recent of these is Virginia.  These states which include Virginia, Michigan, Utah, Alabama, Florida, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota,  and Texas  all claim that the Federal government is trying to negate the power of the states to verify immigration status through lawsuit rather than by legislation. 

What does SB 1070 require?

           Currently, the law requires “reasonable suspicion” to presume that 1) the person is an alien unlawfully present in the U.S. and 2) that the person has broken any law, or ordinance of county, city or town or state.  Clearly, this could be minutia and could be anything from a traffic stop to loitering in the wrong place.  The law then requires law enforcement agency to transfer the person to federal custody and facility.  This gives a law enforcement officer authority to determine legal status AND it also allows civil penalties and fines of $500-$5000 for each day that the lawful permanent resident brings action against the state as well as court costs and attorney fees if the resident prevails on adjudication.   This is a small penalty for false imprisonment and all the related legal and social ramifications and consequences that the person suffers.  However, it certainly puts the law enforcement officer in a “Catch 22” situation.  It also is grossly unfair to the permanent resident who must take a costly legal action to get any benefit for the government’s mistake

          Racial profiling violates the 5th and 14th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution.  Our Supreme Court has held that police checkpoints and questioning near borders is legal for those suspected of being illegals.  In 2007 alone over 600,000 non-citizens were incarcerated in state jails while waiting for immigration removal proceedings

         Although the law states that the officer may not consider race, color, or national origin to enforce this law it also says “except as permitted by the U.S. or Arizona Constitution.”  Furthermore, unless the officer acts in bad faith, he is indemnified from any suit or proceeding. 

          Unfortunately, the law does not stop here for it criminalizes the person who transports, moves, conceals, harbors or shields the unlawful alien as a Class 1 misdemeanor with a fine of $1000.00 for each illegal immigrant.

Economic Effects of SB 1070

          According to Immigration Policy Center 27% of immigrants ( 294,541 people) as of 2007 were naturalized U.S. citizens.  Nearly one-third of Arizonians are Latino or Asian.  Latinos are currently 11.7% of Arizona voters so clearly this is a problem  for the Federal government who seeks their support. Currently there are more immigrants in Arizona than in San Jose, California.  Billions of dollars and thousands of jobs are being added to the Arizona economy by Latino and Asian consumers and businesses.  U.S. Census Bureau’s Survey of Business Owners claims over 35, 000 Latino-owned businesses, more than 10,000 Asian-owned businesses and over 44 billion in economic output by immigrants.  Thus according to the Perryman Group, Arizona would lose over $26.4 billion in economic activity and approximately 140,324 jobs.

          The real question Arizona must ask is whether it can afford this bill socially, economically, politically and legally although a large majority of Arizonians support this bill.

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