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SB 1070: Opponents of Arizona's Anti-Immigrant Law Proclaim the Fight is Not Over

Danny Ortega, longtime activist and Phoenix attorney, speaks Monday during a post-Supreme Court ruling on SB 1070.
Danny Ortega, longtime activist and Phoenix attorney, speaks Monday during a post-Supreme Court ruling on SB 1070.

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Three down, one to go.

The fight is not over in Arizona.

Report instances of racial profiling.

Those are among the messages coming from leaders within the local Latino community who gathered on the State Capitol lawn Monday morning following the U.S. Supreme Court decision on SB 1070.

Community activists will continue to fight, they say, against the "papers please" provision of Arizona's anti-immigrant law left on the table when the Supreme Court rendered its long-awaited ruling this morning.

Arizona Senator Steve Gallardo
Arizona Senator Steve Gallardo

Danny Ortega, an attorney and longtime activist in Phoenix, urges people in the community to report instances of racial profiling -- which opponents of the harsh Arizona law will have to prove in order for the Supreme Court to hear arguments again regarding the remaining provision.

"The court has given us the opportunity to come forward with evidence, to prove this law should be preempted, and we will do so," he says. "For all the people who believe that, in any way, they have been racially profiled, or discriminated against by the police in the enforcement of ... 1070, call [1-855-RESPETO]. We need to know who you are."

Read more about the Supreme Court ruling, with updates.

In a nutshell, the court has shot down three of the four provisions in Arizona's law. Justices rejected the notion that Arizona can criminalize undocumented immigrants who work in the state and who don't carry federal registration documents. They also didn't like the provision in which Arizona could allow cops to make arrests without warrants based on their "reasonable suspicions" that an immigrant -- legal or not -- committed a crime that would get them tossed from the country.

A fourth provision mandating that state and local cops check an individual's immigration status during a "lawful stop," as long as they reasonably suspect that person is unlawfully present in the United States, remains standing. At least, it does for now -- pending a review of whether the remaining provision actually does provoke racial profiling, as opponents of SB 1070 say it will.

State Senator Steve Gallardo, who represents southwest Phoenix, says the Supreme Court sends a "loud message" to the governor and members of the Legislature: "You have overstepped your boundaries. You have gone too far when it comes to trying to deal with illegal immigration in Arizona."

He pokes fun at a press release Governor Jan Brewer issued this morning, claiming victory at the Supreme Court even though three of the four provisions that Brewer and proponents of SB 1070 have spent more than $3 million defending have been struck down.

"She is claiming victory -- victory for the rule of law," Gallard says. "Well, her version of the rule of law has just been struck down as unconstitutional."

Ortega notes there are other lawsuits pending against the Arizona law that challenge its constitutionality.

"There is unfinished business," he says, adding that it goes beyond the remaining provision of SB 1070 and involves "fixing a broken immigration system."

"I would say this to all government agencies: With power comes responsibility. And that responsibility is to treat everyone equally under the law. We respect the Supreme Court's decision ... but it ain't over yet," he says. "To the Latino community, and the allies of the Latino community, I say one thing: This should never, ever happen again. This should never happen again! And the only way we're going to see to it, is for us to get out and vote."

 

Pastor Warren H. Stewart of First Institutional Baptist Church in Phoenix
Pastor Warren H. Stewart of First Institutional Baptist Church in Phoenix

Pastor Warren H. Stewart of First Institutional Baptist Church in Phoenix says that this fight against SB 1070 is about defending the human and civil rights of "hundreds of thousands of Arizona residents who have been discriminated against based on the color of their skin, the language they speak and their country of origin."

He declares that this ruling positions Arizona to write the next chapter in the civil rights movement.

"In the spirit of the U.S. Constitution, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Cesar Chavez, as well as countless others who support liberty and justice for all, this ruling .... has launched a 21st Century civil rights movement," Pastor Stewart says. "It is immoral to turn back the clock to the day when we were judged by the color of our skin, not the content of our character."

As most other speakers, Stewart says that to truly address illegal immigration, "we must create a workable functioning system of legal immigration. Only the U.S. Congress, and not misguided state laws like Arizona's, can create a national, uniform solution."

Randy Parraz, co-founder and president of Citizens for a Better Arizona, the group that spearheaded efforts to successfully toss SB 1070 author Russell Pearce out of office, says the Supreme Court can declare rights, but they can't deliver justice.

"What you see before you are the people who have worked to deliver justice to Arizona," he says about the crowd of supporters gathered behind the speakers. "We are not done."

He says that Governor Brewer "refuses to embrace the fact that people have finally come together, uniting to end the viciousness and the hate taking place here in Arizona."

Unprecedented change is on the horizon, he claims.

"People are coming together, and organizing and registering to vote, uniting in ways that has never happened before," Parraz says. "This is another step, an important step. But it's not there yet. We will continue to fight to make sure that no one, regardless of where you come from, what you look like what you speak like, is discriminated against, harassed, intimated because of some of the right-wing, extreme Tea Party leaders who have taken over this legislature."

Phoenix Councilman Michael Nowakowski and Phoenix Police Chief Daniel Garcia are hosting a community forum tonight at 6 p.m. at Carl Hayden High School, 35th Avenue and Roosevelt Street, to talk about how the city intends to handle the remaining provisions of SB 1070.

More than 100 organizers are also prepared to go out in force later this afternoon to register people to vote, educate them about the Supreme Court decision and make sure they cast a ballot in the upcoming elections.

"We have to continue to build political power and organize our community," says Joseph Larios, an organizers and field worker for the Maricopa County Democratic Party. "We can't trust that the enforcement of these laws will be fair and just -- because we live here, in Arizona."


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