Supreme Court: We heart racial profiling!

Today, the Supreme Court ruled on Arizona’s controversial SB 1070 immigration law. The good news is that it struck down key parts of the law, which is  why it is being hailed as a victory for the Obama Administration, which brought the case to the Supreme Court. The bad news is that it upheld the “show me your papers” part  that encourages racial profiling, which is why Governor Jan “Finger” Brewer is praising the ruling as a victory.

Leslie Berestein Rojas at Southern California Public Radio (KPCC) lays out what the ruling does:

  • Strikes down Section 3, which would make it a state crime for undocumented immigrants not to carry an alien registration document.
  • Strikes down Section 5(C), which would make it a state crime fro undocumented immigrants to apply for work, solicit work in a public place, or work within Arizona. This was not upheld.
  • Strikes down Section 6, which would authorize state and local police to arrest immigrants without a warrant where there is “probable cause” that the person committed an offense that would make them deportable.
  • Upholds Section 2(B), which requires state and local police officers to attempt to determine the immigration status of any person stopped under state or local law if “reasonable suspicion” exists that the person is unlawfully present in the United States.
As Greg Sargent puts it, “The Supreme Court ruling that struck down much of the Arizona immigration law this morning is being widely trumpeted as a victory for the Obama administration. But in truth, from the point of view of immigration advocates, it was only a partial victory at best.” And the statements released by immigration advocates organizations like Amnesty International,  and the ACLU, prove Sargent’s point. The Center for Constitutional Rights said today,

We are extremely disappointed that the Court has endorsed Arizona’s damaging policy of requiring police to stop and interrogate anyone they suspect to be present unlawfully. In upholding Section 2(B) of SB 1070, the Supreme Court has legitimized reactionary state law ordinances that encourage widespread racial profiling, multiply wrongful arrests, and spread fear in communities of color. Today’s decision allows individual states to create a patchwork system of immigration enforcement and in effect undoes decades of precedent holding that regulation of immigration is an exclusively federal function. The Supreme Court has sent the disheartening message that it is willing to turn back the clock to a “states’ rights” era in which the federal courts have no role in protecting the civil rights of people of color.

The immigration battle is being fought on many fronts, from the the Rose Garden, where Obama announced his mini DREAM Act, to the streets of Alabama and Arizona, and the Supreme Court is just one of them. We need to celebrate today’s victories and fight against today’s disappointing injustice by organizing for immigrants’ rights and against racial profiling.