Thousands of grassroots leaders today called on the Supreme Court to strike down Arizona’s anti-immigrant law to show they care for human rights, unity and justice for all.
Arizona’s SB 1070, infamously referred to as the “show me your papers” law, and similar laws enacted in other states, has undermined basic civil and human rights and essentially has legalized harassment and discrimination, said leaders of the Fair Immigration Reform Movement, a network of community-based immigrant advocacy organizations in 25 states.
“SB 1070 takes a sledgehammer to human rights, destroying what America has always been known for: a nation that prides itself on justice for all,” said Deepak Bhargava, Executive Director of the Center for Community Change. “Under SB 1070, there is only justice for people with the right skin color.”
“Arizona’s proposed solution to our broken immigration system, like Alabama’s law and the anti-immigrant laws passed by several other states, is no solution at all. America’s immigrants are our neighbors, our co-workers and our future,” said John Wilhelm, President of UNITE Here. “Criminalization and unfair targeting of our immigrant brothers and sisters is nothing more than scapegoating aimed at dividing us and distracting our attention from the real problems we face – a lack of good jobs and the capture of our political system by the rich and powerful.”
Warren Stewart, senior pastor of the First Institutional Baptist Church in Phoenix, Ariz., was among the Arizonans who traveled to Washington to protest outside the Supreme Court. Stewart is also chairman of the board of directors for the National Immigration Forum, and a board member of Promise Arizona. Stewart noted that former Arizona Senate President Russell Pearce spoke at a counter rally at the Supreme Court this morning, and reminded participants that Pearce, author of SB1070, was removed from office by recall because of his extremism on immigration and other issues important to Arizonans, and emphasized the growing power of a new civil rights movement in America.
Alabama Democratic State Senator Hank Sanders described that the Alabama legislature is poised to make several changes to its own copycat of the Arizona immigration law. He has called on his own legislature to repeal Alabama’s law, which has become a potent reminder of Alabama’s racial history. Sanders also said he has been inspired by the coming together of African America, Latino, immigrant and other communities demanding an end to Arizona-style laws.
Gustavo Torres, Executive Director of CASA de Maryland, emphasized the sense of unity among participants:
“We are united–Latinos, immigrants, civil rights organizations, African American leaders, Asian American leaders, organized labor and faith leaders–in calling for unity and justice in America. One good thing that SB1070 and other laws that have attacked worker rights, voting rights
and immigrant rights has done is to bring us together,” Torres said.