EJS, Others File Brief on Prelim. Injunction Against Ariz. Anti-Immigrant Statute

The Equal Justice Society, the Asian American Institute and thirty-six other public interest organizations, represented pro bono by the law firm Covington & Burling LLP, have filed an amicus brief in Friendly House v. Whiting, supporting the plaintiffs’ request for a preliminary injunction against SB 1070, Arizona’s disturbing new immigration statute.

The lawsuit, a class action filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona, challenges the constitutionality of this recently passed law on the grounds that it invites the racial profiling of people of color, violates the First Amendment and interferes with federal law.

The amicus brief argues that an injunction is justified on three principal grounds.

First, SB 1070 will result in discrimination against communities of color. Although the statute was written seemingly to exclude the possibility of racial profiling, in practice, there is no question but that this law will lead to heightened and disproportionate police scrutiny of minorities. Because Mexico is the nearest border, Latinos especially will be targeted under SB 1070.

Second, this bill threatens public safety in Arizona. If enforced, it will breed resentment and distrust of the police in communities of color. Fearing immigration inquiries, communities of color are very likely to report crime less, making their neighborhoods increasingly unsafe. Moreover, the under-reporting of crime in minority communities will render them even more vulnerable to hate crimes.

Finally, the bill, ostensibly designed to reduce crime, simply does not justify the means. American history is sadly littered with numerous statutes aimed at excluding certain minority groups from the benefits, rights, and liberties granted to the majority. The courts have struck down those laws for over 150 years. SB 1070 is in keeping with this sordid past and must also be struck down.

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