Defending Rights of Immigrants
The stand of the people in Arizona has been firmly in defense of immigrant rights. Tens of thousands of signatures on petitions and phone calls and emails to Governor Jan Brewer have been overwhelmingly for the rights of immigrants. The Governor’s office admits that 85 percent of people contacting her oppose Senate Bill (SB) 1070, which has institutionalized racist government profiling by local police in conjunction with the federal government. Everywhere the demand is for rights.
In the days leading up to passage of Arizona SB 1070 people of Arizona held daily vigils and protests. Students marched out of classes and rallied at the state house in Phoenix. Similarly, as people waited for Governor Jan Brewer to sign the bill into law, youth and many others continued actions, including chaining themselves to the doors of the Capitol. Since Governor Brewer signed the bill into law, more protests, vigils, petitions, informational websites and more have developed. On April 25, thousands protested in Phoenix, joined by people from Texas and California. The law does not go into effect until the end of July, 90 days after the end of the Arizona legislative session, April 30.
On May Day more than half a million people demonstrated in more than 80 cities across the country, defending the rights of workers and immigrants. The actions made clear that the people are rejecting the military response of the government, with more raids, more deportations and more separation of families. Everywhere people are calling on President Barack Obama to immediately end the raids and end federal immigration cooperation with Arizona law enforcement. Only local and state police authorized by the federal government can detain immigrants and only the federal government confirms their documentation. By ending federal cooperation, enforcement of SB 1070 would be blocked.
Numerous other actions, including lawsuits and boycotts are also taking place. Many national minorities that have faced government profiling and state terrorism — such as African Americans, Native Americans, Japanese Americans, and South Asian Americans — all have expressed their support and defense of immigrant rights.
Organizers are also calling on Obama to freeze all raids and federal government programs involving collaboration with local police, such as “Secure Communities,” “CAP” and “287g.” These programs have unleashed government profiling and criminalization of workers all across the country. And implementation of these programs using massive raids are based on policies of the executive. There is no legal requirement for the government to carry out these raids, such as the recent one in Arizona where 800 Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Arizona police agents raided four communities in order to detain 47 people. The federal government is carrying out this terrorism and Obama must end it now.
In addition, the ability of SB 1070 in Arizona to function is entirely dependent on the federal government. Obama can immediately and legally stop the raids and federal collaboration with local police. People of Arizona and those across the country are demanding that he do so now. A national day of action has been called for May 29 to strengthen organizing efforts and make these demands felt across the country.
A referendum drive to block Arizona’s racist immigration and profiling law, SB 1070 is being organized by the One Arizona campaign. If successful, the referendum drive could put enforcement of SB 1070 on hold until the 2012 elections. One Arizona has come into being to oppose SB 1070 and is made up of various groups and activists in Arizona.
SB 1070 allows local and state police to question anyone they have a “reasonable suspicion” is an immigrant without documentation and makes it a crime to be without documentation. It also brands anyone transporting people who are undocumented as “human smugglers” and makes it a crime to solicit work or pick up day laborers.
On April 28, One Arizona filed papers to launch a statewide referendum drive. The campaign is now organizing to collect signatures of 76,682 registered voters within 90 days of the end of the Arizona legislative session, April 30. This is also the timeframe for when SB 1070 would come into force.
If enough signatures are collected, the question to repeal SB 1070 would be put on the ballot for a statewide vote. However, the deadline for the Arizona election officials to put a question on the ballot for the 2010 elections is July 1. So, if the campaign succeeds in getting enough signatures, the vote would be placed on the 2012 ballot. The government cannot implement the law until the vote is taken. In this manner the campaign hopes to both block implementation while also showing the stand of the people of Arizona through getting the issue on the ballot and wining the vote in 2012.
A controversial new Arizona anti-immigration law has many American Indians alarmed that tribal sovereignty has been violated, and that individual liberties will be threatened. The law, Arizona SB 1070, makes it a crime to be in Arizona without documentation, and it requires police to check suspects for residency or citizenship paperwork. It also bans people from soliciting work or hiring day laborers off the street. The state’s legislature passed the bill in late-April, with Republican Governor Jan Brewer signing it into law shortly thereafter.
[Many progressive groups have protested the law,] with the main questions centering on what factors police will use to decide if a person should be required to show paperwork. Racial profiling is a top concern.
As the debate has progressed, Native American perspectives have also quickly become part of the mix. Many observers have noted that it was the indigenous people of North America who welcomed European immigrants to the continent hundreds of years ago.
Robert Warrior, the Osage president of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association (NAISA), sent a letter to Governor Brewer April 24. “Your action as chief executive of the state of Arizona will, when the law takes effect, give license to abuse by police and citizens, making ever more murky the possibility of -working towards a just future for all peoples in the Americas,” wrote Warrior, director of American Indian Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
“SB 1070 will have tremendous negative impact on indigenous people on both sides of the border between the United States and Mexico, and it ought to go without saying that some of the people most impacted by this invidious law are descended from peoples who lived in the Sonoran Desert centuries before anyone even thought of the United States. Regardless of proximity or descent, though, the new law is morally wrong and panders to the worst currents in U.S. politics.” Warrior said in an interview that the regulation seems to be “myopic by design,” since it seeks to take complex realities and make them seem simple.
“Given that many thousands of indigenous people are from communities that have straddled the U.S.-Mexico border since long before that border came to be, I see this law as a tragic reminder of how polluted political culture in the U.S. has become.”
Warrior said tribal citizens throughout North America should see the situation “as a call to think about where we are headed as indigenous peoples whose right to exist predates the borders that now so often keep us apart.” He added, “We need a growing consciousness of what our persistence and presence means in the hemisphere. For those of us who are U.S. citizens, a law like this provides an opportunity to oppose the worst currents of U.S. political life and to stand in solidarity with those whose human rights are violated in the name of security.”
The Inter Tribal Council of Arizona (ITCA) also sent a letter that urged the legislature and governor not to pass the law. “We have a range of concerns, including tribal sovereign nations not being recognized as able to define and protect their own borders as they see fit, and the possibility that tribal citizens will be profiled by police,” said John Lewis, director of the organization. Lewis and other ITCA staffers traveled to Washington after the law passed to educate national policy makers about their concerns. Various Native American groups are calling on tribes and Indians to oppose the measure, hopefully to get it repealed. “This impacts all indigenous people, and the lawmakers need to know it,” Lewis said. “America’s boundaries are not tribal boundaries.”
Lewis noted that some tribes, including the Tohono O’odham Nation and the Pascua Yaqui Tribe, are on and near the U.S.- Mexico border. “Our tribes have much interaction with Mexico, through culture and life, and I’m not sure people realize that there’s an economic impact involved as well.” Lewis and others believe that American Indians are likely to be unfairly targeted, based on their appearance and travel patterns. The American Civil Liberties Union has expressed similar concerns, and has vowed to monitor that aspect of the law. “Even if they are just stopped for five minutes, that is five minutes too many i f the rights of people have been infringed, ” Lewis said.
Leaders of the Asian American Justice Center (AAJC), Asian Law Caucus (ALC) and Asian Pacific American Legal Center (APALC) announced recently that their organizations will jointly challenge Arizona Senate Bill (SB) 1070, a sweeping and profoundly anti-immigrant piece of state legislation that Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed into law April 23. The bill will come into force in late July. “By requiring Arizona law enforcement, with limited exceptions, to determine the immigration status of anyone who law enforcement officers ‘reasonably suspect’ is an undocumented immigrant and expanding their authority to make warrantless arrests, this divisive and oppressive law will encourage overbroad and indiscriminate targeting of entire immigrant communities,” said Julie A. Su, litigation director of APALC. “We stand in solidarity with the Latino community, which has long felt the full force of Arizona’s anti-immigrant laws,” said Su.
“Arizona’s action is unconstitutional,” said AAJC senior staff attorney Ronald Lee. “Arizona’s recent — and telling — attempts to circumscribe the scope of SB 1070 through passage of HB 2162 [which amended SB 1070] will do nothing to save this fundamentally flawed legislation.”
AAJC, ALC and APALC will file their legal challenge with other civil rights organizations, including the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Immigration Law Center and the National Day Labor Organizing Network, as well as with leaders of the Arizona Asian American community.
We are ALL Arizona. Arizona (AZ) Governor Jan Brewer signed into law Senate Bill (SB) 1070, an Anti-Immigrant Racial Profiling Law. Communities in Arizona and across the country are building opposition, calling for ending SB 1070 and [federal programs allowing local police to enforce immigration law.]
Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed the anti-immigrant, racial profiling bill April 23, despite a massive outpouring of opposition from within the state and nationwide.
In the state of Arizona, massive protests have been taking place and are expected to continue. Thousands of high school and college students, largely from immigrant families, broke away from classes to take part in protests against this horrific legislation that could have a devastating effect on all communities.
The National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights joins these grassroots voices and mobilization of Arizona communities to denounce SB1070.
Take Four Actions
NNIRR urges you take four actions NOW to take a stand for justice and human rights.
1. Raise your voices for fairness and equality at the border.
Call Gov. Brewer’s office and tell her SB 1070 is a disaster for the rights of all our communities.
SB 1070 will intensify racial discrimination, criminalization of immigrants – or anyone who does not pass as white or a U.S. citizen.
CALL (602) 542-4331 | You can also email Gov. Brewer at: firstname.lastname@example.org
2. We are all Arizona:
Organize a house-meeting, a vigil and other actions to express support for immigrant rights in Arizona and in your community.
Also ask your family members, co-workers, neighbors and friends to talk about what is happening in Arizona. Ask them to make calls and send emails to Gov. Brewer with this message: “We are all Arizona. Your law cannot break our spirit of community; your law will not stand. Racial profiling and racial discrimination are illegal and SB 1070 will be stopped.”
3. Build the movement for justice and human rights — tell President Obama to end all federal immigration and local police-collaboration initiatives.
Call President Obama to ask him to speak out against SB 1070. SB 1070 depends on federal immigration policing programs.
Ask President Obama to rollback the federal immigration enforcement programs that allow local police agencies to collaborate in immigration control. The 287(g) and Secure Communities programs are encouraging the kind of activity we are witnessing in Arizona.
CALL the White House at (202) 456-1111.
4. Give direct support and express your solidarity to communities organizing on the ground in Arizona.
The Coalición de Derechos Humanos, (CDH) based in Tucson, is organizing and working with grassroots community groups and activists to demand accountability and an end to U.S. immigration and border control policies that deliberately funnel migrants through Arizona’s deadly desert and mountain regions where hundreds die and disappear every year.
Gov. Brewer in signing SB 1070 and also increasing the militarization of immigration and border communities, is calling for the deployment of National Guard troops on the Arizona border. Derechos Humanos (CDH) is in the frontlines of the fight for rights in justice and against the militarization of immigration control and border communities, (www.derechoshumanosaz.net).