WASHINGTON – The U.S. Supreme Court struck down much of Arizona’s controversial immigration law, but upheld the right of police to demand proof of citizenship. Leading LGBT and HIV groups across the U.S. reacted to the mixed ruling.
According to the Washington Post, the high court ruled that Arizona:
• Cannot make it a misdemeanor for immigrants to fail to carry identification that says whether they are in the United States legally
• Cannot make it a crime for undocumented immigrants to apply for a job
• Cannot arrest someone based solely on the suspicion that the person is in this country illegally
Even though that the court ruled that police could legally check the immigration status of anyone who is detained by authorities, the Post noted that even that part of the law could be challenged further in court.
The nation’s leading organizations advocating on behalf of LGBT Americans and people living with HIV/AIDS responded to the ruling and expressed support for comprehensive immigration reform that includes LGBT people and their families. The coalition issued the following statement:
The "show-me-your-papers" provision in SB 1070 is clearly discriminatory but unfortunately was not struck down. LGBT immigrants and LGBT people of color remain particularly vulnerable because this provision in SB 1070 requires police to stop and question people based on their appearance. The LGBT community knows all too well how easily people who are perceived to "look different" or "act different" can be singled out for harassment and persecution. The law particularly threatens LGBT people of color and LGBT immigrants, many of whom already experience heightened hostility, harassment, and even violence based on their appearance, behavior, dress, and other characteristics. This wrongful treatment often occurs at the hands of local officials who lack a basic understanding of sexual orientation and gender identity and expression diversity.
SB 1070, and the copycat laws it has spawned in other states, exacerbate the fear and distrust that dissuade many LGBT immigrants and LGBT people of color from seeking protection from - or offering to assist - law-enforcement officials. While leaving the "show me your papers" provision in effect is a setback for the cause of civil rights in America, the court left the door open for advocates to challenge this bad part of the law by showing that it discriminates and harms people. Along with other advocates devoted to immigrant rights and racial justice, we will fight to protect basic civil rights and we won't stop until we win respect, dignity and equal treatment under the law for everyone.
As the Supreme Court recognized in its majority decision today: "Immigration policy shapes the destiny of the Nation," and the "history of the United States is in part made of the stories, talents, and lasting contributions of those who crossed oceans and deserts to come here." The Court has made clear that states "may not pursue policies that undermine federal law." For example, Arizona cannot create its own system for immigration registration, impose criminal penalties on immigrants who are seeking work, or make warrantless arrests of immigrants based on possibility of removability. This recognition is an important victory for people and communities across the United States. Instead of targeting and criminalizing immigrants and other marginalized groups, communities should be enacting and implementing forward-looking, progressive measures that integrate, protect and ensure equality for all people, including immigrants.
Today's mixed ruling strikes down key parts of a bad law. But the fact remains that our nation's immigration system is broken, and we need comprehensive immigration reform that is fair to everyone, and is inclusive of LGBT immigrants and their families. We will work with our allies in the immigrant rights community to make this reform a reality, and call on Congress to move swiftly to correct the flaws riddling the present immigration system and provide a path to legalization for the nation's undocumented immigrants.
The statement was signed by these organizations:
LGBT Progress at the Center for American Progress
AFL-CIO - Pride at Work
Center Link: The Community of LGBT Centers
Consortium of Higher Education Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Resource Professionals
Family Equality Council
Freedom to Marry
Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD)
Gay & Lesbian Medical Association (GLMA)
Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN)
HIV Law Project
Human Rights Campaign
International Federation of Black Prides
Latino Commission on AIDS
PFLAG National (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays)
Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE)
The National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors (NASTAD)
National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC)
National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR)
National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE)
National Coalition for LGBT Health
National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund
National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance
Out & Equal Workplace Advocates
Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund (TLDEF)
Amnesty International reacts
Frank Jannuzi, head of Amnesty International, reacted to the court’s decision.
“Amnesty International welcomes the Court’s decision that the ‘right to work’ and possible criminal penalties for not carrying immigration documents provisions of SB 1070 are invalid because they encroach on federal responsibilities on enforcing immigration laws," Jannuzi said.
“However, we are disappointed that the Court failed to draw a clearer line in the sand against racial profiling. This leaves the door open for continued challenges as ambiguities in implementation still exist.”
Today’s ruling could impact similar laws in Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, South Carolina and Utah, all of which have been challenged in court.
To read more about today’s ruling on the SCOTUSblog, click HERE.