Immigrant and civil rights groups are set to announce in Phoenix today that they are ready to take on SB 1070, Arizona’s new law that demands that law enforcement officers pull over and question anyone they believe may be in the country without papers. The Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, the National Immigration Law Center, the American Civil Liberties Union and its Arizona state chapter will challenge the law’s constitutionality on the grounds that the bill sanctions racial profiling.
This collection of groups is the same that fought California’s Prop 187. And both MALDEF and the ACLU have been involved in court battles to overturn local ordinances in Farmers Branch, Texas and Hazleton, Pennsylvania, that tried to bar undocumented immigrants from renting property in the town. Thomas Saenz, the president of MALDEF, Alessandra Soler Meetze, the executive director of ACLU-Arizona, Dolores Huerta, famed labor and immigrant rights’ leader, and the singer Linda Ronstadt are expected to speak.
Governor Jan Brewer, who signed SB 1070 into law on Friday, defended her decision then by issuing an Executive Order that demanded appropriate training for law enforcement officers so they could enforce the law without resorting to racial profiling.
“Racial profiling is illegal,” Brewer said on Friday. “It is illegal in America, and it’s certainly illegal in Arizona.” When pressed though, she couldn’t provide specific criteria that police should rely on.
Elsewhere in Phoenix, the 24-hour vigils outside the state Capitol building are now in their eleventh day. And international pop star Shakira is rumored to be meeting with Phoenix mayor Phil Gordon to lend her support to the town in its efforts to fight SB 1070.
[update 2:44pm EST] This morning, two other lawsuits were filed against SB 1070. The National Coalition of Latino Clergy and Christian Leaders filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Phoenix charging that the state bill violates federal law by trying to enforce immigration laws on its own.And The Arizona Republic reported Tucson police officer Marin Escobar filed a lawsuit this morning charging that SB 1070 forces law enforcement officers to rely on racial profiling to comply the law. Escobar challenged SB 1070, saying that there is no such thing as racially neutral criteria when it comes to visually determining a person’s immigration status.