National Immigration Forum

Practical Solutions for Immigrants and America

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Road Clears for Heart of Arizona’s Immigration Law — for Now

September 06, 2012

Washington, D.C. — On Wednesday, district court Judge Susan R. Bolton paved the way for section 2(B) of Arizona’s immigration law to take effect. Section 2(B) will require law enforcement officers to determine the immigration status of those they “reasonably suspect” are not legally in the country. The following is a statement by Dr. Warren H. Stewart Sr., senior pastor of First Institutional Baptist Church in Phoenix and Board Chair of the National Immigration Forum:

“The district court’s “wait-and-see” ruling on Arizona’s immigration law will undermine the basic rights of our state’s native-born residents, as well as Latinos and new Americans. Arizonans deserve better.

“How can law enforcement know someone’s immigration status simply by looking at them? Discrimination — based on skin color, language and ethnicity — is inevitable under this law. A similar provision has been in effect since last year in Alabama, where it has divided communities, generated an atmosphere of suspicion and damaged the state’s reputation. As Arizona implements this law in coming weeks, our communities will struggle to overcome similar strain.

“However, yesterday’s ruling is unlikely to close the book on this misguided law. Judge Bolton, like the U.S. Supreme Court before her, strongly indicated that if S.B. 1070 is applied in a discriminatory manner, the court will re-examine its constitutionality. Because of the racial profiling that is inherent in section 2(B), we expect to see additional challenges to the law in the future.

“This is a watershed moment for states and for the federal government to choose where we want to go as a nation. We can follow Arizona’s footsteps to a path of confusing and discriminatory immigration laws, or we can work together as one nation and fight for practical immigration policies that reflect our commitment to the values of equality and fair treatment that defines us as Americans.”

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