Friendly House v. Whiting (Arizona SB1070 Case)

LatinoJustice PRLDEF filed an amicus brief with an Arizona Court on behalf of a number of national Latino organizations who oppose Arizona's SB 1070 law.


Our amicus presents a unique Latino perspective on how SB 1070 will have a chilling effect on Latino immigrants, both documented and undocumented, from accessing essential educational, medical, nutritional and other benefits to which they are entitled under federal law and the constitution; will foster discriminatory animus against Latinos and lead those motivated by such animus to harass Latino residents and businesses; and will subject Latinos to racial profiling and other civil rights violations by state and local law enforcement.

Amici joining our brief include: National Council of La Raza, U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Hispanic National Bar Association, and Los Abogados Hispanic Bar Association (of Arizona), an HNBA affiliate.

Arizona earlier this year enacted a harsh immigration enforcement law, “Support Our Law Enforcement and safe Neighborhoods Act” (SB 1070), amended by HB 2162) which creates state criminal offenses relating to immigration by making it a state crime to be without proper immigration documentation, and requires state and local officials to investigate and check the immigration status of individuals it encounters, and to report and detain persons suspected of immigration violations. As has been widely reported, it is feared that SB 1070 will result in widespread racial profiling of Latinos, will subject them to unlawful interrogations, searches, seizures, and arrests, and will deprive them of freedom of speech and expressive activity. The law takes effect July 27, 2010.

Soon after Arizona Governor Brewer signed the law, several lawsuits challenging the law were filed, including individual actions by (Latino) police officers in Phoenix and Tucson, and an out of state resident. A class action was filed by the National Coalition of Latino Clergy and Christian Leaders and its Arizona affiliates.

A number of national civil and immigrant rights groups including the Mexican American Legal Defense & Educational Fund, American Civil Liberties Union, and the National Immigration Law Project et al. filed a class action complaint in May 2010 challenging SB 1070 on behalf of several organizations, including, inter alia, community service organizations, labor unions, a religious organization, and a business association, as well as several individuals (U.S. citizens and noncitizens).

The lawsuit(s) allege that SB 1070 is a usurpation of federal authority to enforce immigration laws. The Friendly House complaint specifically contends that SB 1070 is unconstitutional because it violates the Supremacy Clause, the First Amendment, the Fourth Amendment, the Due Process Clause, the Privileges and Immunities Clause, the Equal Protection Clause, and the Arizona Constitution. The named plaintiffs seek preliminary and permanent injunctive relief, and a declaration that SB 1070 is unconstitutional.

UPDATE: Appeals Court Upholds Injunction Against Arizona Anti-Immigrant Law

On April 11, 20011 in a lengthy 87-page decision, a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Judge Bolton's July 28th, 2010 decision to temporarily bar the implementation of several of the most controversial provisions of Arizona’s SB 1070. In upholding the district court’s decision, the Ninth Circuit rightfully concluded that immigration enforcement is the sole province of the federal government, and that states do not have power to create their own immigration policies. The state has yet to determine its next steps. For now, the worst provisions of the law are suspended while lawsuits by the U.S. Justice Department and a coalition of civil rights organizations await a hearing on the merits. LatinoJustice PRLDEF had filed a “friend of the court” brief on behalf of several national Latino organizations which presented a unique Latino perspective on how SB 1070 would have a chilling effect on Latino residents in Arizona from accessing essential educational, medical, nutritional and other benefits to which they are entitled under federal law and the U.S. Constitution; would foster discriminatory animus against Latinos and lead those motivated by such animus to harass Latino residents and businesses; and would subject Latinos to racial profiling and other civil rights violations by local police and law enforcement. Amici joining our brief which was submitted by the law firm of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP include: National Council of La Raza, U.S Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Hispanic National Bar Association, and Los Abogados Hispanic Bar Association of Arizona, an HNBA affiliate.

Arizona in 2010 enacted a harsh immigration enforcement law, “Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act: (known as SB 1070) which created state criminal offenses relating to immigration by making it a state crime to be without proper immigration documentation; and required state and local officials to investigate and check the immigration status of any individuals they encounter, and to report and detain persons suspected of immigration violations which are civil in nature. Soon after the law signed, a number of national civil and immigrant rights groups filed a class action complaint challenging SB1070 on behalf of local community service organizations, labor unions, religious groups and several local residents, including U.S. citizens and non-citizens. LatinoJustice had filed a prior amicus brief in support of the Friendly House plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction to enjoin SB1070. The U.S department of Justice subsequently filed its own lawsuit also seeking to enjoin SB1070, which resulted in Judge Bolton’s July 2010 order granting a preliminary injunction and barring the most egregious provisions of the law from going into effect. The State of Arizona then appealed leading to the (th Circuit decision upholding the preliminary injunction issued by the District Court.While litigation on SB1070’s constitutionality is ongoing in the federal district court in Arizona, the Ninth Circuit’s decision although not a final decision on the law’s validity, is a good indicator that immigration law will continue to be viewed as a federal power and the courts will likely ultimately rule Arizona’s law unconstitutional.

UPDATE: The U.S. Supreme Court in December 2011 granted Arizona’s petition for certiorari. The appellant state’s brief is due February 6th and the respondent federal government’s brief is to be filed by March 19th. LatinoJustice is planning to file a new amicus brief on behalf of several national Latino organizations presenting the perspective of the national and local Latino community on SB1070’s deleterious effect upon Latinos.

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