A judge on Wednesday ruled that Arizona authorities can enforce the most controversial part of the state’s stringent SB1070 immigration law, the so-called “papers please” provision, which would allow law enforcement to check the immigration status of someone they stop.
Phoenix lawyer Manny Cairo, whose practice concentrates on immigration law matters, says the law has now been cleared on the constitutionality of how it is written.
“From a practical standpoint, Jan Brewer has come out and said police officers are trained to implement and execute this law,” Cairo says. “She is pretty adamant that there will be no racial profiling.”
Gubernatorial spokesman Matthew Benson said, “Certainly Gov. Brewer is pleased with this decision. She believes it’s time SB1070 is implemented and so that we can see how effective this law is in practice.”
But some believe racial profiling will definitely come into play.
“With 1070, the police can no longer protect and serve our communities, but only racially profile us,” says Carlos Garcia, an organizer with Puente Arizona, a local human rights organization. “ We already live 1070 every day under Arpaio: the Department of Justice has named him as perpetrating the ‘worst case of racial profiling’ they have ever seen. This ruling will only expand the human rights crisis in Arizona.”
The Tequila Party movement, which was born in Arizona, is so sure that Latinos will be racially profiled, they provided the number for a hotline to report civil rights violations in their release after the ruling.
“We encourage brown-skinned individuals, or any other person of color to do the following if they feel their Civil Rights have been violated,” the press release said, including the Department of Justice hotline.
Cairo invoked the name of Rosa Parks in explaining where things might go from here for Latinos.
“Things could go as far as they did in the 50’s and 60’s when there were civil rights challenges,” Cairo says. “Rosa Parks was a test case, she was planted. It’s difficult to say for sure what is going to happen but civil rights organizations will be working with folks and introduce individual cases or possibly a class action lawsuit.”
Stephen Nuño, a political scientist at Northern Arizona University and NBC Latino contributor says recalling the civil rights movement is an apt comparison.
“The fight against SB1070 is part of the struggle for all Latino citizens against laws that have historically been used to cast an aura of suspicion on them,” he says.
“From old fear-mongering against Mexican revolutionaries and Communist infiltrators, to current laws meant to paint us as suspicious invaders breaking immigration laws or insurgents trying to take back the Southwest, this is no different.”
Time will tell if allegations of racial profiling by Latinos in Arizona make the comparisons come more into focus.