Washington DC - Arizona immigrant rights advocates, civil rights, faith, community and elected leaders gathered on national telephonic press conference to denounce Arizona's state bill SB1070 a tough immigration enforcement measure, call on Arizona Governor Jan Brewer to veto the legislation, and to shine a bright spotlight on the large scale enforcement operation Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) executed today in Arizona.
Earlier this week, the Arizona House of Representatives approved the harshest and most extreme anti-immigration legislation in the country. The new law would make it a crime for undocumented immigrants to be in Arizona, gives police the authority to investigate the immigration status of any person they encounter if they have "reasonable suspicion" that the person is in the country illegally, and permits citizens to sue if they believe that the law is not being enforced. The proposal is expected to result in widespread racial profiling, as police feel compelled to demand that citizens and legal residents "show their papers," and to exacerbate community tensions that undermine community policing and public safety.
Arizona State Representative Kyrsten Sinema, a leader against the bill in the
While the state Senate prepares to send SB1070 to Governor Brewer's desk, federal authorities, including the FBI, Department of Justice, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement are conducting a major anti-smuggling initiative in
"The reaction from the community has been sheer panic," said Bishop Minerva Carcaño of the United Methodist Church. "We've opened the doors to our churches and have prepared to accept families - especially children - who may have been separated from their families during today's actions."
"The force used by law enforcement was completely disproportionate to the number of arrests," said Jennifer Allen, Executive Director of the Border Action Network. "There were choppers flying overhead and local police had cordoned off streets. The massive and unnecessary show of force has terrorized communities. People are scared to send their children to school; they're scared to go to work and worst of all, they're terrified in their own homes."
Local community activists and organizers have challenged Immigration and Customs Enforcement Assistant Secretary John Morton to reassert federal control of our broken immigration system. The combination of the impending new law and today's showy and blunt enforcement actions has advocates wondering if we are watching the transformation of Arizona into a police state.
"While we applaud honest law enforcement work to keep our communities safe, we are concerned about the timing of an ICE operation that seems to be as much designed for media consumption as anything else," said Pablo Alvarado, Executive Director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network. "SB 1070 is quite literally intended to terrorize immigrant families. We are worried ICE Director Morton's intense media campaign to publicize this action will only contribute to a climate of fear that is already sending shockwaves across the state and country."
"This misguided, and possibly unconstitutional, legislation represents several steps in the wrong direction on the question of how to respond to our broken immigration system. If the bill survives substantial legal challenges, it will permanently sanction the racial profiling of
**A recording of the press conference is available here **
Martine Apodaca (202) 383-5989