Civil Rights Groups to Wage Campaign Against SB 1070 Type Laws

By City News Service

Immigrants’ rights groups, labor leaders and city officials gathered at Los Angeles City Hall Tuesday to oppose a provision in an Arizona law upheld by the Supreme Court on Monday. The provision in SB1070 requires police officers to check the immigration status of individuals who are lawfully stopped.

The court ruled that the constitutionality of the law would be determined based on how it is enacted by Arizona law enforcement agencies.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and other speakers predicted the law — labeled by opponents as the “show me your papers” law — will eventually be overturned by the court.

“We believe that, that too will be unconstitutional when, over time, we will be able to demonstrate that there is no way to implement this provision without discriminating, without profiling, without violating the constitutional rights of the people involved,” Villaraigosa told reporters.

The Supreme Court Monday struck down three other provisions of Arizona’s law, known as SB 1070, including those that made it a crime for undocumented immigrants to apply for work and allowed police officers to arrest anyone thought to have committed a deportable offense.

American Civil Liberties Union-Southern California Executive Director Hector Villagra said the ACLU, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and other civil rights groups are prepared to wage a major campaign to overturn the Arizona law and block similar laws from taking effect in other states.

“We have a war chest ready, and we stand willing and able to fight any city, any county, any state in this country that wants to (copy) the Arizona example,” Villagra said.

City Councilman Eric Garcetti said Arizona’s law is intended to “create a climate of fear and intimidation.”

“This is a roadblock in our march for civil rights. It’s a proclamation of discrimination in our fight for equality. It’s an insult to our nation and what it stands for,” Garcetti said.

Speakers also urged support for the Trust Act, a state bill that would bar law enforcement agencies in California from participating in the Secure Communities, or S-Comm, program. The Immigration and Customs Enforcement program requires participating law enforcement agencies to detain undocumented immigrants beyond the time an individual is eligible for release from criminal custody.

The bill, sponsored by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, says S-Comm puts the burden of immigration enforcement on local law enforcement agencies and jeopardizes police relationships with immigrant communities.

“We’re the epicenter of the immigrant population in America and the undocumented population in America. And here in this state we believe and believe strongly that this state has a right to limit what we do with Secure Communities,” Villaraigosa said. “We have a right to say that we’re going to take a different path.”

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Huntington Beach, hailed the court’s ruling Monday as “balanced and positive,” saying it clarified that state and local law enforcement can assist the federal government in enforcing immigration law.

“This is a significant victory for those on a state level who are trying to gain control of the massive flow of illegal immigrants into our country,” Rohrabacher said. “It is clear the problem will never be solved without cooperation from the very top of the federal government and the very bottom of local jurisdictions. The Supreme Court decided that cooperation is constitutionally proper.”

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June 28, 2012  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.

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