Last fall, I wrote a piece entitled “No Place For Show My Your Papers Laws” which will be revisited here in light of the US Supreme Courts ruling on the Arizonia law. The state of Arizona started a wave of anti-immigration laws which have been replicated by four (4) states to date.
In response to the enactment of these laws, many organizations and individuals have taken decisive action to indicate that there is no place in a free nation for “show me your papers” laws. The ACLU and other national advocacy organizations remind us that that these anti-immigration laws[i] — already signed in Arizona, Utah, Indiana, Georgia and Alabama[ii] — pose a grave threat to our civil liberties.
It is the ACLU’s assertion that these “show me your papers” laws which were passed in Arizona, Utah, Indiana, Georgia and Alabama intrude on the federal government’s immigration authority and institutionalize racial profiling and discrimination in states and localities throughout the nation — in direct violation of the Constitution’s Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments. As a result, the ACLU has brought class action suits to halt this wave of anti-immigration laws and is urging the Department of Justice to take immediate action to challenge these laws in court.
In July of last year, I wrote about Alabama’s anti-immigration law because it was termed the strictest anti-immigrant law in the nation. There is great opposition to the law not only within that state but also across our nation. Alabama’s anti-immigration law, HB56, took effect in September of 2011. Before the law could go into effect, the American Civil Liberties Union, along with the Southern Poverty Law Center, the National Immigration Law Center, the Asian American Justice Center and the Asian Law Caucus filed a class action lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Alabama’s anti-immigrant law (HB56)[iii]. After the suit was filed in this case a press release was sent out by the ACLU which read:
“Alabama has brazenly enacted this law despite the clear writing on the wall: Federal courts have stopped each and every one of these discriminatory laws from going into effect,” said Cecilia Wang, director of the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project. “Local Alabama communities and people across the country are shocked and dismayed by the state’s effort to erode our civil rights and fundamental American values.”
Many community leaders oppose the anti-immigration law for a range of reasons. “This legislation not only violates our values as a community but will also create astronomical costs at a time when our state can least afford it,” said Shay Farley, Legal Director, Alabama Appleseed. “If these legislators have their way, millions of taxpayer dollars will be squandered and our already underwater state economy will take another serious hit.”
In response to the class action suit brought by the ACLU against the State of Alabama, on September 28, 2011, a federal court judge issued a ruling in that case. Here are comments from the ACLU on the court’s ruling in that case, as they appear in the press release, “While the court has blocked some extremely problematic provisions from going into effect, thereby allowing Alabamians to continue engaging in everyday activities such as seeking employment and giving rides to neighbors, we are deeply concerned by the decision to allow some unconstitutional provisions to stand,” said Andre Segura, staff attorney with the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project. “Laws that require police to demand ‘papers’ from people who they suspect appear undocumented encourage racial profiling, threaten public safety, undermine American values and have no place in our society.”
With that said, the ACLU is continuing the fight to halt the wave of racial profiling laws via filing law suits and other advocacy efforts. Currently, it is requesting that the Obama administration do its part to stop the anti-immigrant activists from putting these laws on the books. To assist in this effort to get Justice Department involvement in this issue, the ACLU is asking each of us to, Tell Attorney General Holder: There is no place in our country for “show me your papers” laws. Toward that goal the ACLU prepared a petition which appears on its website. Please join me in signing and circulating the petition entitled “No place in America for “show me your papers” laws!”.
For further information about anti-immigration laws, visit the website(s) for the Southern Poverty Law Center, the ACLU, the National Immigration Law Center, the National Immigration Forum, or the Asian American Justice Center.
Source(s): ACLU website. ACLU Press Releases. ACLU Press Release September 28, 2011. Alabama Coalition for Immigration Justice Press Release, National Immigration Forum, Southern Poverty Law Center, ACLU, the National Immigration Law Center, the Asian American Justice Center, “Anti-immigration law march in Birmingham draws a crowd and keeps commenters divided, too”, The Birmingham News, June 26, 2011, “Report: Anti-Immigration Law Cost Millions, Jamilah King, COLORLINES, Thursday, January 27, 2011, Huffington Post, and America’s Voice on Line, “Alabama anti-immigration law facing court challenge”, Tom Baxter, Southern Political Report, July 8, 2011, “HB 56: Alabama May Pass Nation’s Harshest Anti-Immigrant Law”, Nsenga Burton, the Root, June 9, 2011.
Photo Credit Microsoft Clip Art
[i] .Alabama is the fifth state to pass anti-immigration law. Some opponents of the law have deemedAlabama’s anti-immigration law to be the most comprehensive/extreme in the nation. To date, the anti-immigration laws have not been fully implemented due to legal challenges by a coalition of national advocacy organizations. The coalition members include: the ACLU, the National Immigration Law Center, the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Asian Law Caucus, the Asian American Justice Center, Latino Justice PRLDEF, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund and the National Day Laborer Organizing Network.
[ii] It has been reported that the Alabama anti-immigration bill (HB 56) replicates some portions ofArizona’s anti-immigration law. As it was written,Alabama’s anti-immigration law:
- Allows local law enforcement to demand papers from and detain those they believe are in the country illegally.
- Makes it a crime for undocumented immigrants to hold a job in Alabama, and make it a crime for any immigrant in the state to be caught without documentation proving status.
- Makes it illegal to sign a contract with undocumented immigrants, to knowingly rent property to them, to knowingly hire them for jobs.
- Requires businesses to use E-Verify, the government database of names, to check employees’ legal status.
- Mandates that parents report the immigration status of their children to public schools to assist the schools to: maintain legal status records on all their students; and document the costs of educating undocumented children.
[iii] The decision in this case came down at the end of September of last year.