April 26, 2012
U.S. Supreme Court Conducts Oral Hearing on Arizona’s S.B. 1070;
Immigrant Rights and Women’s Rights Groups Denounce Unconstitutional Anti-Immigrant Policies
SB 1070 has created a chain reaction across the country, from Arizona to Alabama and beyond. Because of these laws, my children are afraid. Our dignity has been stepped on, and every part of our lives is affected, from work to school to transportation to health. The psychological damage of these laws is deep, and it affects all of us, citizen or not. Laws should help build strong families, but families are being torn apart.
—Trini, mother of two, living in Alabama under the Arizona copycat law, HB56
Washington, DC – Speaking on the wave of anti-immigrant laws that began with Arizona’s S.B. 1070, Trini, an immigrant mother of two, said “our dignity is being attacked, and we can no longer remain silent. ” Yesterday, as the United States Supreme Court held oral hearings on S.B. 1070, women and immigrant leaders from all over the country agreed. We Belong Together, a collaboration of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum and numerous women’s rights and immigrant rights organizations, remains strongly committed to fighting S.B. 1070 and other immigration enforcement laws that harm the civil and human rights of immigrants living in this country.
S.B. 1070 is the first “papers please” law to be introduced and passed by states that makes it a crime to reside in the state without authorization, allows local law enforcement to detain and arrest anyone due to their “reasonable suspicion” of being unlawfully present, authorizes warrantless arrests for individuals presumed to have committed a removable offense, and makes it a crime for unauthorized workers to work in the state. After passage of S.B. 1070, five other states passed similar legislation, including Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, South Carolina, and Utah.
The consequences of this harmful law have been keenly felt by immigrant women and their families. Since 2010, We Belong Together has taken Women’s Human Rights Delegations to states with the most draconian anti-immigrant laws, such as Arizona, Georgia, and Alabama, to hear local women and children explain the impact of these policies. The testimonies of women like Trini unequivocally demonstrates that these laws are dangerous, destructive, and unconstitutional. Since the introduction and passage of this legislation, immigrant women, children, families, and communities, have had their civil and human rights violated. In many cases, individuals have been racially profiled during minor traffic stops; police set up ‘check-points’ in front of schools, churches, and other common gathering points for immigrants; families have been denied housing, water, and basic healthcare; and fear has come to dominate the lives of entire communities.
The impact on women and their families has been particularly harsh. Women comprise 51% of new immigrants, and many long-time residents have established families. These women are increasingly breadwinners, small business owners, community leaders, and the foundations of their families. Yet, they are bearing the brunt of these anti-immigrant policies. They risk being arrested for walking their children to school, they must worry about who will provide care for their children if they are suddenly detained or deported, and when families are indeed separated by deportation, they risk termination of their parental rights. Moreover, after three decades of making progress in the fight against domestic violence, immigrant women are now afraid to call the police to report domestic violence or other crimes for fear of arrest or deportation if they are undocumented.
Immigrant communities and women’s rights advocates believe that enough is enough. Laws that encourage racial profiling, silence domestic violence survivors, and tear families apart have no place in the United States. We urge the U.S. Supreme Court to find Arizona law S.B. 1070 unconstitutional.