On today, June 25, 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court struck three provisions of Arizona’s draconian anti-immigrant law, but permitted enactment of the controversial “show me your papers” provision. The “show me your papers” provision requires local police to determine the immigration status of someone arrested or detained when there is a “reasonable suspicion” a person is in the United States illegally. This provision will undoubtedly will lead to racial profiling and discrimination.
The ACLU of Colorado is, however, heartened by the fact that the Court invalidated most of the law’s provision stating that Arizona had overstepped its authority. Colorado, thankfully, is not Arizona. “We’ve seen the corrosive effects that laws like S.B. 1070 have on a community. Colorado understands how laws like the Arizona law harm business, undermine police work, and threaten our most basic American values. Anti-immigrant laws modeled after Arizona’s SB 1070 are proving to be a failed experiment that we must not repeat in any other state, especially Colorado,” said Denise Maes, ACLU of Colorado Public Policy Director.
The Court permitted one of the most controversial parts of S.B. 1070, the so-called “show me your papers” provision, to move forward, but the Court stated that until it is actually implemented and enforced, it is unclear whether the provision is constitutional. Therefore, the provision remains subject to challenge.
“There is no way for this provision to be enacted without racial profiling. The provision basically says that if, for whatever reason, your last name, color of your skin or your accent allows you to be perceived as ‘foreign,’ you’re vulnerable to being stopped,” said ACLU National Executive Director Anthony D. Romero. “That’s not an America we want to live in.”
The ACLU case challenging the Arizona law was stayed pending resolution of the United States case challenging the law.
“Show me your papers” laws exact a heavy financial toll. Alabama’s state economy has taken a multi-billion dollar hit as a result of its law. Arizona saw a drop in sales tax revenue and a jump in the unemployment rate when S.B. 1070 was enacted in 2010. Farmers have seen their crops rot and are planting less because the workers they have relied on for decades have fled in fear.
There are over 400,000 foreign-born immigrants living in Colorado and the data shows that over the course of a lifetime, immigrants – whether documented or not – pay more in taxes than they take in government services. They represent almost 12 percent of the Colorado workforce and immigrant-owned small businesses bring almost $700 million a year to Colorado. The Supreme Court decision clearly tells Colorado and other states that laws like S.B. 1070 are to be avoided.
Anti-immigrant laws are costly at so many levels. They drain resources from county sheriffs and local police departments who do not want the burden of serving as immigration agents while also trying to protect their communities. Immigration checks poison efforts to foster trust and cooperation within all communities. These laws encourage racial profiling, undermine local law enforcement and sow a climate of fear that pits neighbor against neighbor.