Communities everywhere must organize to make codification of intolerance a temporary setback
Los Angeles — On Monday, the Supreme Court of the United States of America announced its decision on the legality of SB1070, one of the first and ugliest anti-immigrant laws in the country. The High Court’s ruling makes it possible for Arizona to codify racial profiling by allowing the “show me your papers” provision to be implemented. Thousands upon thousands of people will fall prey to fishing expeditions by anti-immigrant forces led by Sheriff Joe Arpaio and inflict suffering, prejudice, and even exile on people based on the color of skin, language, dress code, or ethnicity even if a person was born in the United States. The following is a statement by Angelica Salas, executive director for the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA), a regional organization with national impact focused on immigrant and civil rights.
“Today’s ruling marks a dark day for justice in the history of the United States of America. In one sweep, the Supreme Court has sided with Arizona and allowed racial profiling as an acceptable law enforcement tool.
The history of our country is riddled with injustices made possible through an extreme minority’s justification of discriminatory, divisive, and callous decrees. The codification of segregation, exclusion from voting, Trail of Tears, encampment of ethnic minorities, and exile of whole class of workers, to give but a few examples, was made federal statute because the courts allowed it without remorse. On the same week that the US Congress finally apologized for approving the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 which enshrined ethnicity and nationality discrimination into law, the highest court in the land has shamefully swerved to the edge of a similar abyss.
But our nation’s history is also one where people of good will stood up and pressed for change, making us a better people for it. Now, it is up to the immigrant community and its allies to change history.
Let there be no mistake about it. Just as the seeds of unfairness and bigotry beget blind passions; our right to protect our basic civil liberties should beget active civic engagement and massive community mobilization. No one legislative body should assume that today’s ruling will stand for long. The court challenges will continue as we are certain racial profiling is unconstitutional. We are on the right side of history and winning respect, dignity, and equal treatment under the law is a matter of “when” not “if”.
States like California can lead and go against the anti-immigrant tide by erecting firewalls to racial profiling, including legislative mandates, such as the TRUST Act (AB1081), that keep “Secure Communities” from snatching workers and families. The Obama Administration can also engage with those communities most likely to be impacted by today’s decision. The White House should: a) Send civil rights monitors to states that legalize discrimination and aggressively enforce civil rights laws across the country; b) Make good on the promise of prosecutorial discretion by providing real, fair, and consistent relief to families and workers threatened with separation; and, d) Stop “Secure Communities” the DHS program that encourages racial profiling and outsources federal enforcement priorities to local police; and, d) Work with Congress to permanently protect DREAMers, young people and students who are American in all but paperwork.”