Key Provisions of Arizona’s Anti-Immigration Legislation are blocked, but
Racist law remains in effect.
By Diana Carolina Sierra
Police officers mobilized on July 28th to begin enforcing Arizona’s anti-immigrant
legislation SB 1070 at the stroke of midnight. Meanwhile opponents of the bill organized vigils
and acts of civil disobedience. Hours before SB1070 took effect on July 29th, U.S. District Judge
Susan Boltan issued an injunction against four key provisions; the remaining aspects of the law
remain unchallenged. Bolton blocked Section 2 of the bill, which obligated police to determine
the immigration status of individuals stopped, detained, arrested, or for “reasonable suspicion”
of undocumented status. Defending SB1070’s racial profiling, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) stated: “I
think it's wrong to use racial profiling for the reasons of discriminating against people, but it's
not wrong to use race or other indicators for the sake of identifying [those] that are violating the
law…” He added law enforcement officials can use “common sense,” their “sixth sense,” and
factors such as “what kind of shoes people wear, what kind of accents [sic] they have” and “type
of grooming” to detect if someone is undocumented. My word of advice to undocumented
immigrants: pop your collar and get a pair of boat shoes. This aspect of the bill is an open
invitation for racial profiling, arbitrary detention, and is an outright assault on not only on the
immigrant community, but towards all people of color. Judge Boltan rejected this portion of the
bill on these grounds: “There is a substantial likelihood that officers will wrongfully arrest legal
resident aliens under the new (law). By enforcing this statute, Arizona would impose a 'distinct,
unusual and extraordinary' burden on legal resident aliens that only the federal government has
the authority to impose.”
Judge Bolton also blocked Section 3, which criminalizes the failure to apply for
documentation (a tedious, long, and expensive process), and failure to carry documentation.
According to the law as written, you're a criminal if you fail to carry a piece of paper with you.
Judge Bolton also blocked Section 5 and Section 6: the former criminalized undocumented
immigrants who solicit, apply for, or perform work, and the latter authorized the warrant-less
arrest of a person if there is “probable cause to believe the person has committed a public offense
that makes the person removable from the United States.”
While the injunction of the most controversial aspects of SB1070 has provided temporary
relief to some, for others there is little to celebrate given the portions of the anti-immigrant
legislation that remain. Carlos Garcia of the Phoenix-based Puente Movement
commented: “While they can breathe a sigh of relief for the minimal injunction, our breath
catches with the added boots on our communities’ necks. Deciding to use an open hand instead of
a closed fist makes this no less of a blow to the people of Arizona.” The law criminalizes
transporting undocumented persons, stopping traffic to hire a day laborer and allows Arizona
residents to file suit against law enforcement bodies that restrict enforcement of federal
immigration law. Police officers can impound vehicles being used to transport immigrants, even
if one is giving a ride to a family member.
In light of the injunction some liberal politicians have called off the boycott (economic
sanctions) to Arizona; originally organized in order to protest the signing of the bill. However
many immigrant rights groups see the struggle as being far from over, and continue to support
the boycott. These groups mobilize against raids, increased deportation and separation of
families— there has been a 10% increase of deportations under Obama (279,035)—and the
militarization of the border that is resulting in the death and murder of immigrants at alarming
rates. The organizing efforts of immigrant rights groups are important. Maricopa County Sheriff
Joe Arpaio responded to the court by saying “It doesn’t matter what the ruling is by the federal
judge. We’re going to do it anyway.” For anti-immigrant groups, the injunction represents
a “bump in the road,” in the words of Governor Jan Brewer, who signed SB 1070 in April.
Governor Brewer and supporters plan to appeal Judge Boltan’s decision.
Governor Jan Brewer also signed bill 2281—a legal ban on ethnic studies. Imagine if
New York made it a crime to teach Black, Latino and Asian studies at CUNY! Learning cultural
history is critical for developing social consciousness and a responsible society. This legal ban
says that the contributions, struggles and history of non-white peoples are subordinate and
irrelevant. Yet, the history of people of color is American history, and our struggles continue
to drive it. This demonstrates that anti-immigrant agendas extend beyond direct issues of
immigration; anti-immigrant groups are driven by a racist vision of US society and foreign
policy. The vision not only denies people of color civil liberties, but also the human right to
self-determination and cultural autonomy. This point is further proven by the reality that anti-
immigrant groups are fierce supporters of imperialist policies.
Immigrant organizers must continue to educate the public about the root causes of
immigration by discussing the role of US foreign policy, past and present, which creates and
perpetuates the economic and social conditions that make immigration to the US inevitable.
This point is completely absent from the mainstream debates on immigration, particularly Latin
Although President Obama has openly criticized Arizona’s immigration law, his
administration implemented Arizona-like federal policy through ACCESS programs
(Agreements of Cooperation in Communities to Enhance Safety and Security), increasing
collaboration among local law enforcement and Immigration Customs Enforcement. Huffington
Post writer Roberto Lovato dubbed Obama’s administration a “frenemy” of SB1070: “friendly to
the point of continuing and expanding Bush-era policies that brought about SB-1070, enemy who
sues parts of a law that his own administration helped create.” Furthermore, on 12 August 2010
Congress approved $600 million dollars to increase militarization at the US-Mexico border;
Obama is expected to sign the bill.
Despite the obstacles, immigrants hold a tremendous amount of social power—our
nation’s and states’ economies depend on their exploited labor—from the laborers picking fruit in
California, to domestic workers pushing white children in strollers in New York. We must
continue to fight for reforms that can improve the everyday lives of immigrants while
challenging the institutions that perpetuate economic displacement abroad.
“Power never takes a back step - only in the face of more power” -Minister Malcolm X
Subsection 2(A) prohibits Arizona officials, agencies and political subdivisions from limiting or restricting the enforcement
of federal immigration laws;
Subsection 2(C) requires notification of ICE or Customs and Border Protection whenever an unlawfully present alien is
discharged or assessed a monetary obligation;
Subsections 2(D) and (F) permit law enforcement to securely transport unlawfully present aliens and send, receive,
and exchange information related to immigration status; Subsection 2(H) permits legal residents of Arizona to bring
actions in state court “to challenge any official or agency of [Arizona] that adopts or implements a policy or practice
that limits or restricts the enforcement of federal immigration laws to less than the full extent permitted by federal law;”
Section 4 of S.B. 1070: The Arizona Legislature revised A.R.S. § 13-2319 by adding a provision that permits officers
enforcing Arizona’s human smuggling statute to stop any person who is operating a motor vehicle if the officer has
reasonable suspicion to believe that the person is in violation of any civil traffic law.Id. § 13-2319(E). Section 4 does not
make any other changes or additions to Arizona’s human smuggling statute, A.R.S. § 13-2319.
Sections 7, 8, and 9 amend Arizona’s law imposing sanctions on employers who hire unlawfully present aliens.
Section 10 amends A.R.S. § 28-3511 to allow for the immobilization or impoundment of vehicles used in the
transporting and concealing of unlawfully present aliens where the driver of the vehicle knew or recklessly
disregarded the fact that the alien was unlawfully present.
Section 11 creates the “gang and immigration intelligence team enforcement mission fund” for civil penalties
paid pursuant to Subsection 2(I).
Section 12 provides for the severance of any unconstitutional provisions, and Section 13 provides a short title
for the enactment.