Breaking news- Department of Justice files lawsuit against Arizona law

From the Restore Fairness blog.

In a much anticipated move, the Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit against Arizona’s SB1070 today, retaliating against the harsh anti-immigrant law that requires local police to detain suspected of being undocumented. The law, slated to begin on July 29th, is the subject of national controversy coming under fire from civil rights advocates for giving racial profiling the green light.

The Department of Justice accuses the state of Arizona of crossing “the constitutional line” by interfering with the federal government’s authority to create and enforce immigration law. The lawsuit, with Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer and the state of Arizona as defendants, argues that “the Constitution and federal law do not permit the development of a patchwork of state and local immigration policies throughout the country”, drawing on the “preemption” doctrine which works off the Supremacy Clause in the U.S. Constitution, a clause that gives federal law precedence over state statues.

In our constitutional system, the federal government has preeminent authority to regulate immigration matters. This authority derives from the United States Constitution and numerous acts of Congress. The nation’s immigration laws reflect a careful and considered balance of national law enforcement, foreign relations, and humanitarian interests… Although states may exercise their police power in a manner that has an incidental or indirect effect on aliens, a state may not establish its own immigration policy or enforce state laws in a manner that interferes with the federal immigration laws…Accordingly, S.B. 1070 is invalid under the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution and must be struck down.

The lawsuit also challenges the anti-immigrant law saying that if enforced it will lead to the diversion of precious resources away from targeting those who have committed serious crimes. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder defended the lawsuit-

Arizonans are understandably frustrated with illegal immigration, and the federal government has a responsibility to comprehensively address those concerns…But diverting federal resources away from dangerous aliens such as terrorism suspects and aliens with criminal records will impact the entire country’s safety… Seeking to address the issue through a patchwork of state laws will only create more problems than it solves.

The brief also calls out the law on humanitarian grounds arguing that making the enforcement of law mandatory for the police will inevitably result in the unjust harassment and detention of foreign visitors, legal permanent citizens, and citizens who might not be able to immediately prove their legal status. Accompanying the lawsuit were declarations from many police chiefs, including from Tucson and Phoenix, who have said that if implemented, SB 1070 will hamper their ability to effectively police their communities.

Late last month Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that the Department of Justice was preparing to sue the state of Arizona over SB 1070, sending waves through the media and political networks. President Obama has spoken out against the law.

…the recent efforts in Arizona, which threatened to undermine basic notions of fairness that we cherish as Americans, as well as the trust between police and their communities that is so crucial to keeping us safe.

The federal lawsuit joins five other lawsuits against SB 1070, including a class action suit field by the American Civil Liberties Union on the grounds that it violates the First Amendment, encourages racial profiling, and interferes with the jurisdiction of the federal government. The government has asked for a preliminary injunction and delay in the enforcement of SB 1070 until the case is resolved. A hearing to decide this will take place on July 22nd in a Federal courthouse in Phoenix.

SB 1070 is a shocking example of what goes wrong when the need for comprehensive immigration reform is not addressed. When we allow our government to deny due process and fairness to some, we put all of our human rights at risk. The Arizona law has already resulted in copycat legislation in other states, which if allowed to continue unchecked will add more chaos to a broken system and further marginalize vulnerable groups.

By filing this lawsuit, the federal government has sent a direct message that they will not tolerate laws like SB1070 that instigate racial stereotyping and interfere with the federal enforcement of immigration law. In an address on immigration last week, President Obama called for bipartisan support to fix the broken immigration system.  Please keep up the momentum and write to President Obama and your Members of Congress to take action on immigration now.

Photo courtesy of politico.com

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Law Enforcement Officer Says "Fire Arpaio" who has taken the law into his own hands

From the Restore Fairness blog.

An effective and powerful resistance movement launched against Sheriff Arpaio’s of Arizona is finally yielding results. The Sheriff, notorious for his controversial anti-immigration stance directed against communities of color, has been under investigation by the Department of Justice for alleged civil rights abuses, and is now part of a federal grand jury investigation for possible use of his office to intimidate local officials and political opponent who disagreed with him. Meanwhile, a large scale protest expecting ten to twenty thousand people is being organized for this Saturday in Phoenix, Arziona, to bring national attention to the hatred and extremism that Arpaio breeds, along with a need to put pressure to end the agreement with the federal government that allows him to practice immigration law.

Here is a guest post by Detective Alix Olson of Madison Police Department, Wisconsin featured on the Imagine 2050 blog decrying Sheriff Arpaio’s policies

In my 29-year career as a police officer and detective with the Madison Police Department, in Madison, Wisconsin, I have witnessed and experienced many instances of hatred, violence and racism. In most cases, those negative things were not initiated by law enforcement; sometimes, unfortunately, they were. The 95% of us who sincerely strive to “serve and protect” are tarnished by the 5% of us who intentionally “disserve and destroy.” Nowhere is this more apparent in current American law enforcement than in Maricopa County, Arizona, where Sheriff Joe Arpaio has taken the law into his own hands, at the expense of the Constitution, professional ethics, and proper police conduct. Earlier this year, the mayor of Phoenix wrote a letter to the U.S. attorney general’s office, asking the FBI and the U.S. Justice Department’s civil rights division to investigate Arpaio’s aggressive illegal immigration crackdowns. Mayor Phil Brown wrote that Arpaio’s sweeps show “a pattern and practice of conduct that includes discriminatory harassment, improper stops, searches and arrests.”

Using local law enforcement to enforce Federal immigration laws, as Sheriff Arpaio is doing, weakens the very community links local police and sheriffs’ departments work so hard daily to maintain and build upon. Having community members who are afraid of local police should not be the goal of a department; instead, a far more wide-reaching and positive effect is gained by police-community trust, interaction and collaboration. This might sound too much like social work to Sheriff Arpaio, whose top-down, dictatorial methods favor humiliation, degradation, prisoner abuse, racial profiling, terrorizing Latino residents, and cavorting with local neo-Nazi groups. And according to a 2008 policy report on effective law enforcement by the Goldwater Institute, a libertarian-leaning watchdog group based in Phoenix, Sheriff Arpaio’s department “falls seriously short of fulfilling its mission.” The report found that Maricopa County has “diverted resources away from basic law-enforcement functions to highly publicized immigration sweeps, which are ineffective in policing illegal immigration.”

As we all know, police need the community’s trust to help solve crime and make our country stronger and safer for everyone living here, regardless of immigration status. I’m sure Sheriff Arpaio’s department is having a terrible time finding Latino witnesses and victims of crimes willing to report incidents or testify, but that supposes that he cares about them enough to take reports or help develop their cases for court in the first place. Dehumanizing is another strategy used by Sheriff Arpaio, parading inmates through the streets in funky clothes, “sheltering” them in sweltering desert tents, treating them like vermin, forgetting that he is as bound to them by a universal bond of humanity as much as he is bent on eradicating them.

When chief executives of local law enforcement agencies effectively target subgroups of persons who are not committing crimes, they not only alienate the community, they make it much harder for their agencies to recruit high caliber persons with integrity who reflect the faces of the community to take on the very hard job of policing. A sheriff like Joe Arpaio must have the hardest of times making those hires, and the more the world hears about him, the harder it is for more grounded, public spirited police agencies to hire the best of the best.

American law enforcement must demand the removal of Sheriff Arpaio from duty. He is truly a menace to the residents of Arizona, and our country. Simply stated, Sheriff Arpaio has marred the reputation of law enforcement for generations to come.

His warped sense of “justice” has no place in our society, unless we support Japanese internment camps, the ghetto-ization of African-Americans, and the deaths of countless Latinos attempting to survive their own countries’ destruction at the hands of US foreign and economic policies by struggling to come here to live, work and protect their families. I call upon the International Association of Chiefs of Police, as well as the US Department of Justice, to work diligently to remove him from the office he has squandered with racism and hate. Those of us in law enforcement working hard to build bridges of respect and trust with our communities don’t need another Theophilus Eugene “Bull” Connor erasing our progress.

Photo courtesy of www.puenteaz.org

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