On April 25, the Supreme Court will hear arguably the most important immigration case in a generation. In Arizona v. U.S. the Court will decide the constitutionality of Arizona’s S.B. 1070 and state-level anti-immigrant bills like it. S.B. 1070 makes it a crime to be without status, and authorizes the police to ask for “papers please” from anyone they have a reasonable suspicion of being in the country without legal status. At stake is not simply whether states can put into place their own punitive immigration laws, but whether all people are treated equally under one law, and whether states have the right to legalize discrimination and profiling.
Arizona’s “show me your papers” law undermines the basic notion of equality enshrined in the constitution. It encourages racial and ethnic profiling based on how people look or how they speak, and essentially legalizes harassment and discrimination. If the Court strikes down S.B. 1070, it sends a clear message that it is the federal government that is best suited to protect our civil rights. But if the Court upholds the law, it gives the green light to other states to pass their own harsh anti-immigrant laws, and could lead to a newly segregated United States, where some states are welcoming to immigrants and people of color, and others are not.
Please join the Center for American Progress’s Immigration and Legal Progress Teams for “Why Courts Matter: Racial Profiling and the Arizona Immigration Law.” We will highlight the role that the federal courts play in immigration policy, contextualize the Supreme Court’s hearing, and discuss the ramifications of the Court’s decision. This program is part of a series run by Legal Progress to highlight the important role that the judiciary plays in the lives of hardworking Americans, as well as in the success of the progressive legislative agenda. Legal Progress seeks to make the third branch of government better reflect the values of liberty, equality, and opportunity enshrined in the Constitution that have resulted in America’s progress since its founding.
Marshall Fitz, Director of Immigration Policy, Center for American Progress
State Rep. Stacey Abrams (D-GA), House Minority Leader in the Georgia General Assembly
Lucas Guttentag, Robina Foundation Distinguished Senior Research Scholar in Law and Lecturer in Law, Yale Law School, and Lecturer, Stanford Law School
Judge U.W. Clemon, Retired federal judge from the Northern District of Alabama
Mike Sacks, Supreme Court Correspondent for The Huffington Post