Senate Bill 1070, Arizona’s notorious anti-immigrant law, is set to go into effect on July 29. With days left to go, Organizers are in a race against the clock to minimize the bill’s impact on immigrant communities. Meanwhile, legal experts are examining the strategy behind a federal Department of Justice suit recently lobbed against the Arizona law, and other immigrant rights supporters continue to pressure the state via boycott. All of these acts are contributing to a tumultuous fight that’s escalating by the day.
A top concern is that SB 1070 will increase racial profiling and harassment against Latinos due to a provision that requires local law enforcement to check an individual’s immigration status if there is “reasonable suspicion” that a person is undocumented. The bill also requires immigrants with documentation to carry papers at all times.
At ColorLines, Jamilah King reports that “activists nationwide are stepping up their protests against the measure.” As part of a new campaign called “30 Days, 30 Events for Human Rights,” a variety of actions including works shops, concerts, and protests have been planned for each day leading up to July 28, the day before the bill is set to become law.
Border governors boycott Arizona
GRITtv has more coverage of the Arizona debacle, including commentary from Arizona state lawmaker Kyrsten Sinema and Suman Raghunathan of the Progressive States Network.
On top of that, ColorLines’ Daisy Hernandez also writes that an annual meeting of Mexican and US governors set to take place in Arizona has been canceled over the controversial law. “Six governors of Mexico’s border states have basically said there’s no way in hell they’re stepping foot in Arizona,” Hernandez reports.
This year it was Arizona’s turn to host the meeting, which has taken place for the last 30 years. But Arizona Governor Jan Brewer 86′d the event, citing lack of attendance.
One might think Arizona officials have enough to worry about after spurring international outrage, boycotts, and countless lawsuits with the passage of one law. But now there are reports that the state may get sued by the Justice Department again if documented cases of racial profiling occur after SB 1070 takes effect.
As Gabriel Arana at The American Prospect explains, the Obama administration’s suit against Arizona centers around the legal question of “whether the state is pre-empting the federal government’s constitutional authority to regulate immigration,” not the potential for civil rights abuses.
But New America Media notes that “in six months or a year, the Department of Justice plans to study the impact of the law on racial profiling,” and if civil rights violations are found, Attorney General Eric Holder won’t hesitate to take action.
Still hope for the DREAM Act
While media outlets direct their attention to Arizona, other immigrant rights supporters are actively working to support the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act on the national level. The DREAM Act is a federal bill that would provide a pathway to citizenship for young immigrants who were brought into the United States as children and have no control over their immigration status.
Feministing reports on the Campus Progress National Conference that took place in Washington DC last week, which featured David Cho, whose parents immigrated from South Korea when he was nine. Because he is undocumented, Cho, through no fault of his own, is barred from most schools and jobs.
Trapped in an ‘invisible prison’
“My dad believed that my two younger sisters and I could fulfill the American dream,” said Cho, who would like to be able to serve in the US Air Force. “But I feel like I am living inside an invisible prison cell. Because there are these invisible bars in front of me that limit me from doing the things I want to do.”
The DREAM Act would benefit people like Cho, by allowing immigrants who came to the country before the age of 16 to obtain citizenship after graduating from high school by either going to college for two years or serving in the armed forces.
Mikhail Zinshteyn at Campus Progress reports that if the DREAM Act were enacted today, “800,000 individuals would qualify for legal status on a conditional basis or having already completed a high school degree,” while an additional 900,000 would qualify upon turning 18. But it all depends on the Senate, and it remains to be seen if it will can tackle the issue by the end of the year.