The starting day for Arizona’s controversial new anti-immigrant law SB1070 is fast approaching. July 29th is around the corner and the country waits with bated breath as the Obama administration argues for an injunction to stop the law from being implemented. A Reuters article discusses the four scenarios that could occur. The injunction could be successful, or unsuccessful, in which case both parties have a choice to appeal the decision in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Another outcome could be a partial injunction which would only stop some sections of the law from going into effect. And finally, the state legislature could try to alter the law so that its constitutionality cannot be challenged.
But a pattern of states taking up the issue of immigration has emerged strongly. According to the L.A. Times, that’s nothing new.
Many states have their own regulations governing illegal immigrants. And five states have introduced bills similar to Arizona’s SB 1070, which is the target of a federal lawsuit.
Even though Arizona’s law has generated the most amount of controversy, there are many state laws that fall into the federal subject of immigration.
Colorado restricts illegal immigrants from receiving in-state tuition. Nebraska requires verification of immigration status to obtain public benefits. In Tennessee, knowingly presenting a false ID card to get a job is a misdemeanor…Not all of the laws are anti-immigrant…Ten states have passed laws to allow undocumented college students to pay in-state tuition, and several have expanded access to state-funded health benefits and improved enforcement of wage and hour laws.
All this points to the increasing need for federal comprehensive immigration reform plan that will prevent more Arizona’s from taking place and help fix the broken immigration system.
The impact of SB1070 can be devastating as it destroys the trust between communities and the police that help keep those communities safe. It’s already happening as a New American Media article reports about women affected by domestic violence and silenced by SB1070. Like Lourdes (name changed), a survivor of domestic abuse whose husband reminded her that Arizona’s new law made undocumented women like her liable to deportation. She finally called the police after reaching a shelter eight months pregnant.
Hidalgo, executive director of Chicanos por la Causa (CPLC), a nonprofit that runs the shelter, says that in the past, police officers have been very helpful in protecting victims. But he believes they are now finding themselves between a rock and a hard place. This is because SB 1070 allows Arizonans to file suit against any police department they believe is not enforcing the new law correctly. A department found to be out of compliance could be fined up to $5,000 per day.
Moreover, even the shelter could get in trouble if proved to be helping undocumented immigrants, though there are some exceptions for social workers and first respondents. The law will continue to bring up grey areas where people are unclear what action should be taken, leaving a space for violations, racial profiling, and much of the dangers that many opponents of the law have outlined.
As more and more stories like Lourdes come out into the open, SB1070 is teaching us a lesson that immigration reform cannot wait. Take action now.
Photo courtesy newamericamedia.org