Here is what LatinoJustice PRLDEF had to say about today's Supreme Court decision on Arizona v. United States:
The Court found that the provisions that made it a crime for non-citizens who are unlawfully present in the United States to work in Arizona; criminalized working in Arizona without federal work authorization; and authorized local law enforcement to arrest without a warrant any person they have probable cause to believe committed a deportable offense were all preempted or “trumped” by federal law.
The provision which required police officers to check the immigration status of any person whom they have reasonable cause to believe is an illegal immigrant was remanded back for further proceedings.
The decision was a major victory for many who had criticized the law. The U.S. Justice Department moved quickly in 2010 to block enforcement of the law by suing Arizona as had number of civil rights organizations.
“The decision sends a clear message to states and cities that there can be no cookie cutter attempts to implement immigration law and to unfairly target Latinos,” said Juan Cartagena, president and General Counsel, LatinoJustice PRLDEF. “A decision in the other direction would have been contrary to our nation’s values. To that end we are ready to ensure that any attempts to racially profile Latinos will be met forcefully with additional lawsuits.”
The court wrote poetically, “Immigration policy shapes the destiny of the nation. These naturalization ceremonies bring together men and women of different origins who now share a common destiny.”
“Arizona may have understandable frustrations with the problems caused by illegal immigration while that process continues, but the state may not pursue policies that undermine federal law.”
Arizona’s forceful action engendered four other states to pass copycat laws (Georgia, Indiana, South Carolina and Utah) and one state Alabama, to take it to the extreme.
LatinoJustice PRLDEF is already on the ground as part of the team of civil rights attorneys challenging similar laws in Alabama and in South Carolina. Law enforcement authorities in those states are under court order not to implement their “show me your papers” provisions. The decision in Arizona v. U.S. does not automatically permit its implementation.
“These kinds of laws represent the wrong approach to the challenges America faces at present,” said Cartagena. “It diverts us from our real priorities and sends a message that targeting Latino residents, immigrants and citizens is fair game.”
LatinoJustice PRLDEF will work with its national partners to ensure that every tool at our disposal will be used to stop the implementation of these discriminatory laws.