What is Arizona’s SB 1070 immigration law and what does it mean for the Midwest? A panel sought to answer this question on April 19, which was especially timely because of the Supreme Court oral argument in the Arizona v. U.S. case this week. The panel (pictured right) included moderator Chuck Roth, director of litigation at Heartland Alliance’s National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC); Brian Murray, partner at Jones Day who represented NIJC as amicus curaie in Arizona v. U.S.; Maricela Garcia, CEO of Gads Hill Center; and Daniel Morales, assistant professor of law at DePaul University.
Professor Morales began the panel discussion by mentioning some of the controversial aspects of the Arizona immigration law SB 1070 that the Supreme Court would consider. He described how section 2b of the law requires law enforcement officers to verify a person’s immigration status if the officer has a “reasonable suspicion” that the person may be an undocumented immigrant. The concern with this provision is that it opens up too much discretion for officers, and people will be targeted based on the way they look. Professor Morales pointed out that section 3, which the 9th Circuit enjoined, criminalizes being undocumented. Section 5 criminalizes applying or soliciting work if you are undocumented, which is unprecedented for state law. Finally, section 6 authorizes warrantless arrests and deportation based on probable cause. Additionally, citizens can sue local law enforcement for “failing to enforce the law to maximum extent.”
Garcia pointed out that 36 states have filed similar “copycat” laws since Arizona’s, but 31 of those states have rejected those laws. She spoke of a strong pushback in communities across the nation to reject this anti-immigrant sentiment, despite the economic fear-mongering that undocumented immigrants will take our jobs. Garcia illustrated how SB 1070 represents an attack on the Latino community and an invitation to racial profiling. However, Arizona has suffered $740 million in economic loss since SB 1070 was passed because of a significant loss of tax base from people who left the state. Arizona has paid $1.5 million alone in legal fees to defend the bill.
Professor Morales pointed out that the irony of SB 1070 is that self-deportation is not realistic because the militarization of the U.S.-Mexico border prevents undocumented immigrants from leaving. On the local level, Garcia emphasized that the work of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights and other organizations have strengthened the opposition to such anti-immigrant laws in Illinois. Efforts to copy SB 1070 in Illinois have failed because of these strong coalitions of immigrant rights groups. Hopefully this opposition will continue through the work of NIJC and other supportive groups.
The event was co-sponsored by DePaul's Center for Public Interest Law, Heartland Alliance’s National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC), and DePaul’s Society for Asylum and Immigration Law. A webcast of the event can be found on the Illinois Legal Advocate website, along with copies of the amici curiae and an SB 1070 guide.