The LoDown on SB1070



by Vanessa Garcia

The Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act, also known as Arizona Senate Bill 1070, works towards identifying, prosecuting, and deporting undocumented immigrants.  The bill will make it a crime for those who fail to carry immigration documents, and would give police the power to detain an individual who is suspected to being in the country illegally.  The bill will go in effect on July 29, 2010.  It is the strictest immigration bill to be introduced in decades. 

Supporters of the bill say that it already enforces federal law.  However, many critics believe that it will be an open door for legal racial and ethnic profiling.  Critics also say that the bill will allow individuals to be discriminated against for their accents and the color of their skin, regardless of their citizenship status.  Mexico’s Foreign Ministry stated that he was worried about the rights of their citizens, as well as their relations with Arizona.  A statement by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) said that the law would create “a spiral of pervasive fear, community distrust, increased crime and costly litigation, with nationwide repercussions.”  Cardinal Roger M. Mahony said that the authorities’ ability to demand documents was like “Nazism.”

Since the bill was announced their have been numerous protests and boycotts around the county in opposition to SB1070, especially on May 1, 2010, International Workers Day.  Illinois Congressman Luis Gutierrez, along with 35 others, were arrested for civil disobedience in front of the White House urging President Obama to pass comprehensive immigration reform.

While the bill does not state the ethnicity of those suspected as undocumented immigrants, it clearly targets Latinos over any other racial group.  In the United States v. Brignoni-Ponce, the U.S. Supreme Court found that “The likelihood that any given person of Mexican ancestry is an alien is high enough to make Mexican appearance a relevant factor.”

SB1070 also threatens to break up families because the bill has no regard for individuals who have ties in this country.  This also means that individuals who were brought into the U.S. as children will also be targeted as criminals in the country illegally. 

Local government around the country have begun to take a stance on the bill.  On July 13, 2010 the Monterey County Board of Supervisors met to pass a resolution asking Arizona to repeal SB1070, and to encourage Congress and President Obama to pass comprehensive immigration reform.  The resolution to repeal SB10 passed 4-0.  However, Supervisor Lou Calcagno abstained from voting on the Arizona law.  Calcagno stated that he is in favor of immigration reform because the agricultural industry would collapse without the farm workers.  Supervisor Simon Salinas said that many of the farm workers in Salinas Valley go to Arizona to work and will now have to prove their citizenship.  This means that the Salinas Valley agricultural industry could also suffer if massive deportations take place, preventing workers to return to the Central Coast.  As a result, produce prices could skyrocket in what is already a delicate economy.

Recently, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against the state of Arizona on July 6, 2010.  The lawsuit is being challenged against Arizona on the claims that SB1070 undermines the authority of the federal government to control immigration.  The  lawsuit was brought on by pressure from the American Civil Liberties Union, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educations Fund (MALDEF), and other civil rights groups.  The Justice Department believes that SB1070 would distract federal and local law enforcement officers from focusing on terrorism suspects and aliens with criminal records, and force them to focus on individuals who have not committed any crimes, causing “detention and harassment of authorized visitors, immigrants, and citizens.”   If the courts do not block Arizona’s law, the Justice Department will keep an eye out for signs that Latinos were being singled out. 

Vanessa Garcia has written for Modern Latina since 2008, in addition to Live en Vivo, and 831 Magazine.  Many of her articles reflect her interests in art, music, culture, travel, and the environment.  Vanessa received her Bachelor’s degree from UCLA in Anthropology, and is currently finishing her Master’s as San Jose State University in Mass Communications.