Civil Rights Groups File Suit Against Arizona Immigration Law

A broad coalition of civil rights groups filed a class action lawsuit on Monday challenging Arizona’s new law – SB 1070 – that requires police to verify a person’s immigration status if there’s a “reasonable suspicion” they are in the country illegally.

The coalition includes the American Civil Liberties Union, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, the Asian Pacific American Legal Center and other groups. Together, they charge that the law invites racial profiling, violates the First Amendment and interferes with federal law.

“This ill-conceived law sends a clear message to communities of color that the authorities are not to be trusted, making them less likely to come forward as victims of or witnesses to crime,” said Linton Joaquin, General Counsel of the National Immigration Law Center, in a statement. “Arizona’s authorities should not allow public safety to take a back seat to racial profiling.”

The lawsuit, Friendly House et al. v. Whiting, aims to block the implementation of SB 1070—which is due to go into effect on July 29th. There have been at least 4 other lawsuits launched against SB 1070 since it was signed by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, and all of these may eventually be consolidated into one big suit.

Numerous public figures have called for an economic boycott of Arizona unless the law is blocked. The city of Phoenix has estimated a loss of $90 million over the next five years if a boycott materializes.

On the same day, 16 people were arrested in New York City for civil disobedience while protesting Arizona’s law and the lack of national immigration reform. The protesters temporarily blocked the flow of traffic around the Federal Building by forming a human chain. They called SB 1070 “immoral” and “unconstitutional.”

The ACLU produced this video about what they call the “Show Me Your Papers” mandate.

AboutSarah Kate Kramer
Sarah Kate Kramer first got hooked on collecting stories as a StoryCorps facilitator, then traveled the world with a microphone for a few years before settling down in her hometown of New York City. From 2010-2012 she was the editor of Feet in 2 Worlds and a freelance reporter for WNYC Radio, where she created “Niche Market,” a weekly segment that profiled specialty stores in New York. Sarah is now a producer at Radio Diaries, a non-profit that produces documentaries for NPR and other public radio outlets.