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Asian community urges U.S. Supreme Court to hold Arizona's anti-immigration law unconstitutional

04-26-2012 13:48 BJT

LOS ANGELES, April 25 (Xinhua) -- Asian American organizations Wednesday urged the U.S. Supreme Court to hold Arizona's SB 1070, widely described as the anti-immigration law, unconstitutional as the Court started to hear arguments on the issue.

The Court Wednesday began hearing arguments from the U.S. Department of Justice's (DOJ) legal challenge to Arizona's sweeping anti-immigrant law SB 1070, which requires state and local law enforcement officers to detain and investigate residents based on the suspicion that they are undocumented.

It also purports to authorize state and local law enforcement officers to make warrantless arrests for alleged violations of immigration laws independent of federal authority to do so.

Members of the Asian American Center for Advancing Justice (Advancing Justice) - Asian Pacific American Legal Center (APALC) and Asian American Justice Center (AAJC) - filed an amicus brief in support of the DOJ urging the Court to find that S.B. 1070 is unconstitutional because it violates the U.S. Constitution's supremacy clause.

At oral argument, the DOJ argued that local states can't create their own immigration laws and make unilateral decisions about enforcement of existing immigration laws because under the U.S. Constitution the federal government has exclusive power and authority over immigration matters.

APALC and AAJC are part of a broad coalition of civil rights groups that filed Friendly House v. Whiting, a class action lawsuit challenging S.B. 1070 on behalf of individuals and organizations that are directly harmed by the law.

In the Friendly House action currently pending in the Arizona district court, civil rights groups have sought to stop implementation of S.B. 1070 because it would result in racial profiling and the violation of ethnic communities' civil and constitutional rights.

"APALC is part of the civil rights challenge to S.B. 1070 because the law would result in widespread discrimination and harm to all of our communities, including Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, Latinos, and other communities of color," said Yungsuhn Park, senior staff attorney at APALC, in a statement.

S.B. 1070 has already subjected Asian Americans and other racial minorities to discrimination and racial profiling, according to APALC.

APALC said that Friendly House plaintiff Jim Shee, a U.S. citizen of Spanish and Chinese descent, was stopped twice by local law enforcement and asked to produce his identification documents in April 2010, when the Arizona law was passed.

"I'm part of this lawsuit because racial profiling is wrong and I don't think that people should be targeted, pulled over and questioned because of the color of their skin," Shee, a lifelong resident of Arizona, said in a statement.

S.B. 1070 violates the Constitution, encourages racial profiling and threatens public safety by diverting scarce law enforcement resources and discouraging crime reporting by immigrant victims and witnesses, APALC alleged.

"Our country is in need of immigration reform, but a patchwork of 50 state laws is not the solution," said Jessica Chia, staff attorney at AAJC.

"We call on Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform and the Supreme Court to prevent states from enacting discriminatory laws like S.B. 1070," Chia added in the statement.

SB 1070 has a formal title as the "Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act." It is a bill signed into law by Arizona Republican Governor Jan Brewer two years ago.

The bill has met with strong opposition and legal challenges not only in Arizona, but in other states and at the federal level.

In a U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Tuesday, New York Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer compared immigration policy to federal tax policy, saying that like taxes, the federal government is better equipped to manage and enforce policies than individual states are.

He stressed that the current immigration policies in the United States were "dysfunctional" and "broken," but should not be in the hands of the states to address.

The Supreme Court ruling could have far-reaching impact on the future of state efforts to combat illegal immigration, as there are an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States. It will also likely have an impact on the outcome of November's presidential election.

Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, Indiana and Utah also passed laws in 2011 that mirrored Arizona's law. However, the enforcement provisions of those laws have been put on hold by federal judges, so the Supreme Court's decision will affect the fate of all those laws.

U.S. President Barack Obama, who is running for reelection, has called the Arizona law "misguided," but the Republicans usually support efforts like Arizona to combat illegal immigration.

Editor:Wang Lingfei |Source: Xinhua

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