PHOENIX, AZ – Today, MALDEF, ACLU, ACLU of Arizona, and the National Immigration Law Center (NILC) held a news conference on the House of Representatives Lawn of the Arizona State Capitol Building in Phoenix, Arizona to announce their upcoming legal challenge to Governor Jan Brewer’s recently signed SB1070. In addition, the organizations sought to address misinformation and fears that have been spreading throughout the Latino community across Arizona. Thomas A. Saenz, MALDEF President and General Counsel, ACLU, ACLU of Arizona and NILC leaders were joined by civil rights leaders Dolores Huerta, Richard Chavez and multi-Grammy winning artist and human rights advocate, Linda Ronstadt.
“Today, the three most experienced immigrants’ and civil rights legal organizations nationwide — MALDEF, ACLU, and NILC — announce their partnership, together with local Arizona-based counsel, to challenge SB 1070 in court,” stated MALDEF President and General Counsel Thomas A. Saenz. “The Arizona community can be assured that a vigorous and sophisticated legal challenge will be mounted, in advance of SB 1070’s implementation, seeking to prevent this unconstitutional and discriminatory law from ever taking effect.”
“This law will only make the rampant racial profiling of Latinos that is already going on in Arizona much worse,” said Alessandra Soler Meetze, Executive Director of the ACLU of Arizona. “If this law were implemented, citizens would effectively have to carry ‘their papers’ at all times to avoid arrest. It is a low point in modern America when a state law requires police to demand documents from people on the street.”
Linton Joaquin, General Counsel of NILC, added, “This unconstitutional law sends a strong message to all immigrants to have no contact with any law enforcement officer. The inevitable result is not only to make immigrants more vulnerable to crime and exploitation, but also to make the entire community less safe, by aggressively discouraging witnesses and victims from reporting crimes.”
There are a number of serious constitutional problems with the law, the groups say. It violates the supremacy clause by interfering with federal immigration power and authority. The law also unlawfully invites racial profiling against Latinos and other people of color.
“What we are witnessing today is the blatant targeting of an entire American population, Latinos,” stated civil rights leader, Dolores Huerta. “We must not give in one inch to Arizona’s effort to blame our community for all the ills of the state or their efforts to run us out. We have worked this land, built and maintain these buildings, and sacrificed as much as any other. We must put an end to SB1070.”
“My family, of both German and Mexican heritage, has a long history in Arizona. It has been our diverse and shared history in this state that unites us and makes us stronger,” stated Linda Ronstadt. “What Governor Brewer signed into law last week is a piece of legislation that threatens the very heart of this great state. We must come together and stop SB1070 from pitting neighbor against neighbor to the detriment of us all.”
Founded in 1968, MALDEF is the nation’s leading Latino legal civil rights organization. Often described as the “law firm of the Latino community,” MALDEF promotes social change through advocacy, communications, community education, and litigation in the areas of education, employment, immigrant rights, and political access. For more information on MALDEF, please visit: www.maldef.org.
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