SB1070 Supposedly Gutted While Politicians Play It Safe
During the protest at ICE headquarters in Phoenix, a white bus arrived with people who were detained for being in the country without proper documentation. Protestors rushed to the fence to yell and make noise for all the detainees to hear. Parts of SB1070 had been removed but ICE was still transporting prisoners.
Video by Santiago James Chavez at Toon the News
Members of Promise Arizona pray at the Arizona State Capitol while awaiting the results of the Supreme Court's decision on SB1070.
A lot happened on June 25th. The Supreme Court issued a ruling which gutted three key provisions of Arizona's anti-immigration law, SB1070 and left one key provision in place.
People from Promise Arizona continued a vigil at the Arizona State Capitol and waited for the results of the decision at 7:00am. I arrived at the Capitol a little after 6:00am and shot a few photos of them as they made a circle, held hands, and prayed.
I then hopped in my car and rushed over to the Puente Movement's office on the other side of Downtown Phoenix. I got stopped at every red light. I was counting in my head "Twelve blocks to go, ten blocks to go, eight blocks to go..." as I very impatiently tapped my fingers on the gear shifter and grumbled to myself about the slow driver in front of me who wasn't flooring it and getting through the lights on time. Yes, the speed limit was only 25mph but surely 40mph would beat the next light, right?
Well, I made it to Puente with plenty of time to spare, as I knew I would, but the adrenaline made it feel like I only had thirty seconds left instead of the twenty-five minutes that it really was. I pulled into the parking lot and only one other video team was there. Of course, I was way too early and could have taken more photos at the Capitol but I really wanted to be at Puente this particular morning.
I wasn't even sure I would bother driving into town for this. The decision was scheduled to be released at 7:00am MST.
I had only slept three hours that night. Sunday evening I spent time at the Puente office for the grand opening of their new Librotraficante lending library consisting of the eighty plus banned books which were excommunicated from the Tucson Unified School District after they recently dismantled their Mexican American Studies high school program.
I then spent the rest of the evening at the Arizona State Capitol watching the new film, Two Americans, with friends and people from Promise Arizona. It was exhilarating to watch this documentary about Sheriff Joe and the divisive Arizona politics while sitting in the dark shadows of the very buildings where much of this history took place. At the same time, some of the people who were in the film were sitting near me as well.
By the time I eventually got home, eagerly sorted out my photos, and went to bed, it was 1:30am, with the alarm set for 4:30am to get to Puente yet again. The adrenaline kicked in pretty fast though and got me up. I didn't wait long at the Puente office. Carlos Garcia and others arrived shortly to open the building, set up a few laptops, and began to wait.
Supporters and media crews slowly trickled in over the next fifteen minutes and the tell-tale clicking sound from the SCOTUSBlog.com website's live blog made us continually peer over to see what was happening.
As the first unrelated decisions came down, B. Loewe, with the National Day Laborer Organization, quietly announced them to the group. Sandra Castro nervously reached over and flipped through one of the banned books from the shelf next to her. The others sat quietly while the news media crowded in close to the opposite side of the table ready to capture any reactions.
Finally, B. announced that SB1070 had been decided and read the results off of the live blog screen. The announcement that three sections had been scuttled didn't prompt a positive reaction since the big section of SB1070 had been upheld. No one looked surprised but there was a definite sense of disappointment in the air.
Carlos stood up to read the computer screen and announced to the reporters which sections had been enjoined and that section 2b had survived. When asked how he felt, he replied that it was what had been expected. "We're going to have every police officer asking everyone for their documents. This is definitely something of concern to us and we're going to continue to fight. We have our community here and we've been organizing and preparing folks," Carlos said.
"We've lived under racial profiling under Arpaio for the past four years and we know what it has done to our community. Now for every police agency to do the same thing is unacceptable. We're calling on President Obama to stop this now. If ICE prohibits access to the State of Arizona, this law will not hurt our families." Little did we know that morning that this was precisely what would happen later in the day.
Shortly after, Sandra Castro was interviewed by a media person next to me. She said, "This gives a whole lot of leeway for them to be able to question you about your papers but to stop you and detain you right then and there because they see fit. That is giving every law enforcement official in the State of Arizona way too much power. We've been fighting since 2007, since Joe Arpaio got his access to 287(g) which was his 'papers please' way of handling the situation here in Maricopa County. We're going to keep on fighting and we're going to fight even harder today than ever. They just announced that they haven't seen any racial profiling cases. They're going to see plenty of them after this."
Sandra's voice was quiet and about to crack while she was speaking. She looked very disappointed and sad because even though the entire law had not been upheld, there was still the spectre of law enforcement using it as a tool to extract additional information that would be used to jail mothers and fathers and permanently separate them from their children, friends, and family. Images from the film the night before of distraught children watching their parents taken from them before their own eyes ran through my head at that moment sparking some strong emotions.
Even though President Obama stripped away 287(g) access from Arizona law enforcement later that same day, nearly making section 2b of SB1070 a moot point, the point remains that SB1070 is still here and remains a real threat to many people in the State of Arizona.
We continue to have politicians who outwardly support these laws and even deigned to declare the gutting of SB1070 as a victory for their way of thinking.
In some way, however, they may be correct. Yes, the law is mostly neutered, especially with the recent announcements of the Obama administration that they would be reducing deportation enforcement of certain people and others who fit within a certain age range and criteria. In addition, the suspending of 287(g) within Arizona was a welcome change.
So all things are looking pretty optimistic, right? It seems that way. There is plenty of spin in that direction as well. While the right-wing is proclaiming a victory and sounding like they want to throw a paper-ticker parade over the next weekend, some of the less conservative among us are rejoicing as well.
Let's break this down a bit. For the most part this is positive. The part that was upheld was only upheld for now. The Supreme Court left open some loopholes for more legal challenges which are sure to come in the upcoming months.
I don't want to sound too pessimistic but there are some major issues that are going to arise that we all need to be cognitive of.
If this somehow does not make it back into the courts, which I think it will, there is the looming problem of section 2b becoming a precedent to be used by future administrations. For now, Obama has taken some of the teeth out of enforcing this law due to the removal of 287(g) from Arizona. However, that is only for Arizona and other states could try to pass similar laws in upcoming legislative sessions. It is doubtful that 287(g) will be revoked for all of those states.
Future administrations could end up reversing these orders and until the rest of SB1070 is removed, section 2b could easily be put into full effect by Mitt Romney if he wins in November. This makes re-electing Obama important, in spite of the fact that he has not appeared to do a whole lot of work on comprehensive immigration reform.
Mitt Romney is a threat to this temporary solution because he has been working with Kris Kobach to form immigration policies. As we may remember, Kris Kobach was instrumental in the original formation of SB1070 and similar laws passed since then in Georgia and Alabama.
Until this is settled in court, there is always the possibility that President Obama could also reverse Arizona's 287(g) restrictions. It would likely be highly unpopular prior to the election, but since this only applies to Arizona, it is plausible that if Arizona meets some as yet unwritten standards, that access could be restored should Obama be re-elected.
Regardless of whether Arizona has 287(g) access, several sheriff's departments around the state will likely continue business as usual. Clarence Dupnik, Sheriff of Pima County, stated, "From our point of view, that hasn't changed anything. We have turned over to the Border Patrol on a regular basis people whom we routinely come in contact with for some other lawful purpose that we believe may be here illegally. We've always done that and will continue to do that." (http://azstarnet.com/news/local/border/opinions-about-the-decision/artic...)
Tucson is located within the 100-mile border zone around the edge of the United States. All they need to do is call Border Patrol to assist whenever they run across someone they need to have checked out. Lack of access to 287(g) is pretty much a moot point for them. For them, nothing changes because they have Border Patrol detain their suspects instead of booking them into jail and checking with ICE. So this ruling for Section 2b only affects the central and northern parts of the state.
As for Sheriff Joe Arpaio, he stated on the Neil Cavuto Show on Fox, "I'm for the 1070 but I've been doing this for four years anyway." He went on to complain about the loss of 287(g) and that he lost his access when the Department of Justice came after him.
Arpaio continued, "We should enforce the laws in the interior which most people are saying, including politicians, 'Lets secure the border first.' What about all the illegals that are in the interior? We're locking them up on human smuggling, raiding businesses, and crime suppression. By the way, I'm not stopping anything. I'm going to continue to enforce those state laws. I'm not going to bend to the state government, especially when we have state laws to enforce." (http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=L08IX2ejFpw)
Running against Joe Arpaio are three primary candidates. The independent in the race, Mike Stauffer, characterized the decision as having "little effect in the way responsible law enforcement is conducted in Arizona. The reality is that most of the provisions included in the law we have come to know as SB1070 have been in effect and enforced by Arizona police departments for many years.
"The enforcement of these laws has taken place during routine, daily police operations. It has only been a recent phenomena that enforcement of immigration laws has been politicized and turned into an exercise in media grandstanding. I will enforce these state laws in a constitutional manner and will provide assistance and cooperation to the responsible agencies in enforcing federal law." (http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10150972854477156&set=a.101502474...)
Paul Penzone, one of the two Democratic candidates, wrote on his Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/penzone2012), "The Supreme Court sent a very strong message today - Law enforcement must be politically neutral. It must be impartial. And it must empower officers by giving them the autonomy to make sound decisions that enhance public safety.
"As sheriff, I will uphold the laws of our state and county. And most importantly, I will encourage lawmakers to engage the law enforcement community prior to drafting politically-charged legislation that ultimately costs taxpayers millions of dollars to defend.
"Senate Bill 1070 was drafted in a legislative vacuum, without the input of the law enforcement leaders of our community. Now, it is an expensive reminder that there’s no room for a political agenda in justice."
On the topic of Sheriff Joe Arpaio's use of SB1070, John Rowan, the second Democratic primary challenger to enter the Maricopa County Sheriff's race states on his website that "It has hurt us. It has deprived numerous individuals from their basic rights under the Constitution of the United States. It has resulted in over $300 million dollars in lawsuits against MCSO, that you the taxpayer will be paying the bill. I will stop wrongful illegal immigration sweeps and focus on the violent criminals." (http://www.rowanreform2012.com/reform.html)
One of the key points that I have not heard any of the three Sheriff's challengers state yet is whether or not if they were to defeat Arpaio is if any of them would work to restore the 287(g) arrangement with ICE which was lost on December 15, 2011. (http://blogs.phoenixnewtimes.com/valleyfever/2011/12/feds_pull_287g_auth...)
This is a point of some importance because it illustrates an interesting phenomena I have been noticing lately. As Sheriff Joe astutely pointed out in his interview with Neil Cavuto, people are pining to secure the border first instead of focusing on the interior and people who are already here.
Even a number of politicians who are typically thought of as more liberal jump on board that bandwagon. Quite a few of them will emphatically state that they are not in favor of SB1070 but in their second breath declare that the federal government should be doing more to secure the border. Sometimes it is part of a wish for a broader "comprehensive immigration reform" but the sentiment to "secure the border" is a common element.
For example, Ann Kirkpatrick, Democratic primary candidate for U.S. House of Representatives, stated on the Neil Cavuto show in July 2010 that "We need to secure the border. We need to stay focused on that and not get distracted with these side shows.
"You know, I read Senate Bill 1070. It does nothing to secure the border. The boycotts do nothing to secure the border. The lawsuit doesn't do anything to secure the border. I'm very disappointed. I'm angry and frustrated that the administration chose to sue the state of Arizona rather than working with us to secure the border."
And again, yesterday, she repeated her mantra, "Today's Supreme Court ruling is a reminder that this law hasn't solved anything. What we need is a federal immigration strategy that secures our borders while offering fair and sensible reforms" (http://www.tucsonsentinel.com/local/report/062512_sb1070_saying/what-the...)
Ann Kirkpatrick has stated that she does not support SB1070 but at the same time, on August 17, 2010, she issued a press release in support of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) opening of a new office in Casa Grande. (http://politicalnews.me/?id=3183&keys=Congresswoman-Ann-Kirkpatrick-ICEO...)
In the press release she stated, "I welcome the announcement that ICE will be bringing much-needed manpower to fight drug and human trafficking in Pinal County. This is a useful step towards cracking down on the Mexican drug cartels and making up for the failed policies that put our communities in harm's way.
"We have been pushing to make the federal government understand the threats we face, and this is another sign that they may finally be starting to listen. The city, county and all of Greater Arizona will be safer with these security personnel on patrol."
The article went on to say, "The Congresswoman feels strongly that amnesty is not an option and that illegal immigrants convicted of crimes in this country must be deported without exception. No one should be given a free ride – any others must earn the privilege of staying in this country or go back home. They need to prove they are working and paying taxes, pay a fine, and not only learn English but be able to read the Constitution and recite the Pledge of Allegiance like Arizona children do in school every morning."
Ann Kirkpatrick sounds much more like a Tea Party Republican than a Democrat.
Her primary opponent, Wenona Benally Baldenegro, stated on June 25th, 2012, "In striking down key provisions of SB1070, the U.S. Supreme Court sent a clear message to Arizona that immigration remains within the exclusive power of the federal government to regulate.
"While three out of four provisions of the law are no longer enforceable, the Justices endorsed the 'show me your papers' provision -- the crux of the law that leaves open the door to potential racial profiling and pretextual stops. Allowing a confusing patchwork of state laws to remain on the books is not the solution to immigration reform. We must monitor Arizona's exercise of this provision while, at the same time, pursuing challenges to eliminate it." (http://www.tucsonsentinel.com/local/report/062512_sb1070_saying/what-the...)
Baldenegro has also been actively speaking out on similar issues. In the May 2011 issue of Latino Perspectives Magazine, she stated, "For many young people in Arizona, the struggle for social justice began a year ago when Gov. Brewer signed S.B. 1070, Arizona’s controversial law requiring police to check the immigration status of individuals suspected of being in the country illegally. Meanwhile, for other youth, the fight began in 2006 when former State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne began his crusade to eliminate the Tucson Unified School District’s Mexican American Studies program by drafting H.B. 2281, the state legislation banning the teaching of ethnic studies courses in Arizona’s public schools.
"However, for my father-in-law Salomón R. Baldenegro (“Sal Sr.”) and other veteran activists of Arizona’s Chicano movement, the recent wave of hostile measures targeting the Latino community is something they’ve experienced before in their past. In a recent Tucson news article (Tucson Weekly, Mar. 31, “Being Baldenegro”), Sal Sr. shared his memories of fighting for equality and justice in his early 20s when he helped lead the Tucson student walkouts in 1969 and the El Rio Golf Course takeover in 1970. Like many civil rights activists of his generation, their courage to take up the fight for civil rights was driven by a hope that future generations would not have to undertake the same battles. In the article, Sal Sr. remarks, “We all hope as parents that the struggle we fought, our children won’t have to fight again. … We fought our battles against racism and discrimination, thinking, ‘Now you guys can just live your lives,’ but what is going on now in Arizona, we all have to do something about it.” (http://latinopm.com/opinion/my-perspective/a-new-but-familiar-struggle-9783)
Newly elected Democrat Ron Barber, who replaced Gabby Giffords, just echoed Ann Kirkpatrick's statements by saying "SB1070 was an expression of Arizona’s frustration—but it did nothing to make our border secure, as even Gov. Jan Brewer has admitted. We must give renewed attention to stopping the drug cartels that have inflicted their violence on so many innocent people.
"Today’s court decision leaves open the essential question of how we make sure that all Americans enjoy the protections against discriminatory treatment that are guaranteed by our Constitution and it also still fails to offer any remedy for securing our border. (http://www.tucsonweekly.com/TheRange/archives/2012/06/25/grijalva-suprem...)
Even Democratic Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton just said, "I support comprehensive immigration reform but not 1070. I believe we need stronger border security but 1070 and border security have nothing to do with each other." (http://ktar.com/22/1555431/Phoenix-mayor-sees-economic-side-of-1070)
So why is this point so important to make? You will hear this said over and over. Even Sheriff Joe agrees with it. Although, maybe that should be a glaring clue that one topic has little to do with the other.
Just because someone states that they are opposed to SB1070 does not mean they will not be one of the first in line to help the federal government deport hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants.
It seems that the defining topic for Arizona is SB1070 and immigration enforcement. Yet you will hear few people speak out against deportations. Wenona Bally Baldenegro is one of those few who have dared to go beyond the more politically correct statement of merely condemning SB1070.
In addition to the problems brought up already, there were parts of SB1070 which were not enjoined in July, 2010. Those parts were not addressed by the Supreme Court decision at all. So while it seems good that SB1070 was "gutted" in a three to four decision, the reality is due to the severability clause, that there is more of it that people are forgetting about.
As of July 2010, it is now against the law to transport an undocumented person in your vehicle (Section 5). If caught, your vehicle will be impounded. If they are caught in their own car, their vehicle will be impounded. Also, the part which forbids "sanctuary cities" was allowed to go into effect (Section 2a). In addition, anyone who is a legal resident may sue any state official who they believe is not enforcing federal immigration laws (Section 2h). If they win, the fines collected will be deposited in the Gang and Immigration Intelligence Team Enforcement Mission Fund (Section 2i). http://www.azdatapages.com/sb1070.html
Regardless of how positive this ruling may seem, there are still some major issues to be solved. The concept of "enforcement first" immigration reform being pushed by many moderates and right facing politicians only partially "solves" any of this. The reality is that it will only split up more families.
Until we decide to recognize that our neighbors have the right to live, move, and work on the lands of their ancestors, we are going to continue to fight over this and create immoral laws.
We fail to recognize that it is us who are the temporary residents. We perpetuate the selfishness that we are predestined to own this land upon which we have resided for barely over one century; like many Arizonans, less than a decade.