Our VoiceImmigrationNews & Politics

Feds Handcuff Racist Arizona Law

Jill Garvey • Jul 07, 2010

Some lawmakers in Arizona like to think of their state as the wild, wild west - a lawless place where it’s every man for himself. Arizona certainly has some unique qualities, but this romanticized idea that modern life in Arizona is akin to bygone days of shoot-’em-ups and Wyatt Earp is ridiculous. However, some in Arizona have built careers and gained national publicity on this perception.

Yesterday the U.S. Justice Department reminded those same lawmakers that Arizona is in fact part of the United States and subject to the very same Constitution that the rest of us abide by (and uphold.)

In a lawsuit filed in Phoenix yesterday, the federal government challenged the constitutionality of Arizona’s new anti-immigrant law, SB 1070. The aim of the lawsuit is to delay SB 1070 from going into effect on July 29 and eventually rule the law completely invalid.

The lawsuit explicitly asserts the federal government’s authority under the Constitution, stating,

“In our constitutional system, the federal government has pre-eminent authority to regulate immigration matters. This authority derives from the United States Constitution and numerous acts of Congress. The nation’s immigration laws reflect a careful and considered balance of national law enforcement, foreign relations, and humanitarian interests.”

SB 1070, nicknamed the “Papers, Please” law, would require residents to produce proof of legal residency at any time and law enforcement to question a person’s immigration status if there’s a reasonable suspicion that they are undocumented. Civil, human, and immigrant rights groups, as well as faith leaders and politicians from across the nation have justly deemed the law racist and unconstitutional.

That hasn’t fazed the folks behind the law. State Sen. Russell Pearce, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the leaders of the anti-immigrant John Tanton Network, and various border vigilante and white power groups have stopped at nothing to make sure Arizona is hell on earth for immigrants. In fact, after SB 1070 was passed a slew of other anti-immigrant activities and ordinances came up.

Teachers with accents were targeted, students were barred from studying coursed on ethnicity, and violent vigilante groups became increasingly vocal and visible.

Up until yesterday the Obama Administration had done little to stem the tide of anti-immigrant fervor oozing out of the Southwest. This lawsuit is a start, but little more.

Now if the Feds could take care of those creepy neo-Nazis running around the Arizona desert, there might be a ray of hope for the beleaguered state.

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