AZ Law will devastate Latinos if stay is lifted, says new filing

For immediate release: Oct. 1, 2010

Contact: John Garcia (212) 739-7513 or 917-673-9095

Arizona Law S.B.1070, if implemented, will devastate Latinos all across Arizona. They will be subject to massive racial profiling and daily wrongful arrests. Latino children will be denied schooling and emergency medical care. Hundreds of Latino businesses will go out of business. And all Latinos will become the targets of harassment by anti-Latino activists. For these reasons, several pre-eminent national Latino organizations filed an amicus today with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals asking them to uphold the injunction preventing S.B. 1070 from going into effect.

In July, U.S. District Court Judge Susan Bolton, in the case brought by the United States Department of Justice, issued a preliminary injunction preventing several sections of S.B. 1070 from becoming law until the courts have a chance to hear the full case. The State appealed and asked the Appeals Court to lift the injunction.

The groups – The National Council of La Raza, the United States Hispanic Chamber Of Commerce, the Hispanic National Bar Association and Los Abogados Hispanic Bar Association - asked the courts to uphold the injunction. The groups are represented by LatinoJustice PRLDEF and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP.

“The Court needs to know just how traumatic the impact will be on Latinos if the stay is lifted.” said Cesar Perales, President and General Counsel, LatinoJustice PRLDEF. “The abuse will be extensive and ugly. Innocent people will be harmed simply because they look Hispanic. The State could be inalterably ripped in half. We can not allow that to happen.”

One of the portions of the law that has been stayed requires all law enforcement officers to ask anyone they stop to document their lawful status if the officer has “reasonable suspicion” that the individual does not have permission to live in the US. Since the initial filings were submitted to the district court, officers have been instructed that anyone who exhibits “unexplained nervousness” or is riding in an “overcrowded car,” among other factors, can be questioned about their status. If they can not document their lawful status, those individuals must then be arrested.

“This law provides the means for anyone-- police officers or private citizens-- with racial animus to trigger an immigration raid on anyone who looks Hispanic.” Foster Maer, a LatinoJustice attorney working on the amicus, said. “If a neighbor does not like the Latinos next door, they can complain to the police that the neighbors recently arrived from Mexico and were having loud parties. True or not, the police, when responding to the complaint, will have to question and then arrest the neighbors if they cannot document their status.”

The amicus notes how one town sent its employees to the bus stops for school buses to ask parents to document their residency and how the sheriff in another town has proposed posses of armed civilians to hunt down “illegals.”

The judge’s ruling followed hearings on three of seven federal lawsuits challenging SB 1070. Plaintiffs include the U.S. Department of Justice, the American Civil Liberties Union, Phoenix and Tucson police officers, municipalities, undocumented immigrants and non-profit groups.

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