Stopping State Led Anti-immigrant Policies

From Comprehensive Reform to State-Led Regressive Legislation: In the past two years, the immigration debate has shifted drastically from hopeful progress on national immigration reform, to an increased number of state anti-immigrant legislative proposals mirroring Arizona’s SB 1070 a law designed to make the environment so harsh that immigrants will self-deport. The Department of Justice sued the Arizona government calling SB 1070 pre-emptive to federal law wherein Judge Susan Bolton at the 16th Circuit Court enjoined the law. Arizona was used by anti-immigrant forces such as ALEC and FAIR as a laboratory for such harmful legislation to be spread to other states. In 2011, a similar anti-immigrant bill to SB 1070 was introduced in twenty-five states, it only passed in Indiana, South Carolina, Georgia, Utah and Alabama. The worst of all these was Alabama, forcing children to show their parent’s documentation status to register for school. Churches stopped English as a Second Language Classes for fear they would be prosecuted for Harboring.

Because of our organizing efforts in Arizona and Alabama, the showcasing of the harsh and inhumane nature of these laws, designed to drive immigrants to self-deportation, we were able to stop every SB 1070 copycat that was introduced in 2012, which included Mississippi, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Tennessee. No Arizona-styled anti-immigrant bills were passed in 2012 this is a huge victory!

Response to Supreme Court of the United States Hearing on SB 1070

In April, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments regarding Arizona’s SB 1070, the decisions on which will heavily influence many states’ deliberations on similar anti-immigrant legislation. The Interfaith Immigration Coalition to coordinate closely with the National Immigration Forum, Center for Community Change, and other allies to bring a faith component to the actions in front of the Supreme Court and around the country. CWS worked with other members of the IIC to organize a press conference with various faith leaders on Monday April 23rd, kicking off a 48- Hour Prayer Vigil in front of the Supreme Court. CWS coordinated closely with Promise Arizona, which had originally coordinated a three-month long vigil in Arizona during the struggle against SB 1070. They were part of this forty eight hour vigil, bringing the Virgin de Guadalupe, religious symbols and the raw stories of persecution from Arizona. Together, faith communities showed a strong presence in opposition to state-led anti-immigrant legislation, which was highly noted in various media outlet’s coverage of the event.

The Supreme Court decision found three of the four provision to pre-empt federal law and therefore not constitutional, however, the section 2B, the “papers please” provision was upheld. Although it is clear to advocates that section 2B when put into practice will lead to racial profiling, the Court ruled there was not enough evidence, but opened the door to further civil rights challenges in the future. Read more here