By Valeria Fernández
New America Media
PHOENIX, Ariz. – Lawmakers on both sides of the political divide in Arizona are claiming victory following Monday’s Supreme Court ruling on the state’s immigration law known as SB 1070.
“This morning, the U.S. Supreme Court sent a loud message to the governor and the members of the State Legislature: ‘You have overstepped your bounds, you have gone too far when it comes to dealing with immigration in Arizona,’” said Democratic Senator Steve Gallardo. “Immigration is a federal issue and has to be dealt with on a federal level.”
In a 5-3 ruling, the court struck down several parts of what has come to be known as the “Papers, Please” law, including the controversial provision making it a felony to be in the state without documentation. It upheld, however, one portion granting police the right to inquire about the immigration status of anyone they suspect of being undocumented.
Governor Jan Brewer, who signed SB 1070 into law more than two years ago, called Monday’s ruling a “victory.”
Groups like the American Civil Liberties Union and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund say the decision will lead to increased racial profiling of communities of color. Both are planning legal challenges to SB 1070.
There are also concerns about repercussions from the court’s decision in states with similar legislation.
“It’s sad to know that I’ll be on the street and I’ll be afraid of the police,” said Iveth Rodríguez, a 27-year-old undocumented immigrant. “I’m afraid that because of the color of my skin and being Mexican they’ll try to stop me.”
Rodriguez came to the country when she was 18 years old, meaning she is not entitled to the deferred action granted by President Obama earlier this month for undocumented immigrants under 30.
“Everything they announced today in the court, we are already living through,” she said.
For some, the news has helped to strengthen activists’ resolve to protect immigrants’ rights.
Patricia Rosas is an undocumented immigrant working with Promesa Arizona, which helps inform and engage voters on the issue of immigration.
“Now we’re really going to boycott Arizona,” said Rosa, part of a growing movement of undocumented immigrants participating in the civic process. Other organizations active in immigration politics include the Barrio Defense Committees, which are working across the state to empower immigrant communities.
Promesa Arizona is one of several organizations behind a campaign seeking to oust Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio – known for his harsh anti-immigrant crackdowns – in the state’s upcoming elections.
The “Adios Arpaio” campaign is looking to register more than 30,000 new Latino voters and grow a young team of more than 600 volunteers, said Petra Falcón, Promesa Arizona director.
Arpaio, who is a facing a civil suit brought by the Department of Justice accusing him of racial profiling, said the Supreme Court decision upheld the most important part of SB 1070.
“This is a good day,” said Randy Parraz, co-founder of Citizens for a Better Arizona (CBA), the bipartisan group that led the drive to recall SB 1070 author Senator Russell Pearce. “The only way to get justice is for people like ourselves to organize on the ground. Arpaio is done in November.”
Monday’s ruling also coincided with an announcement from the Obama administration that it plans to cancel all 287(g) agreements in Arizona. The agreements allow local law enforcement to be trained by the federal government in identifying and assisting with the removal of undocumented immigrants.
Governor Brewer criticized the timing of the announcement.
“Of course, it is no coincidence that this announcement comes immediately on the heels of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling upholding the constitutionality of the heart of Arizona’s anti-illegal immigration law, SB 1070,” she said in a statement.
“It appears the only agreements eliminated today were those in Arizona, the state that happens to be on the front lines of America’s fight against illegal immigration. We are on our own, apparently,” she added.
“We knew 287(g) was on the way to being fazed out and replaced by Secure Communities,” said Carlos Garcia, an activist with the PUENTE Movement. “We won’t be fooled by this president, we won’t play games. We know Secure Communities and other ICE programs will continue to deport members of our community.”