Category Archives: Press Release

New Wave of Local Intiatives Seek to Restore Trust Damaged by DHS Arizona Style Policies, Push Back Against Secure Communities Program

California TRUST Act, DC Bill Set New ‘Commonsense’ Trend 

07.10.2012. Washington, DC.

Days after the California senate passed a “Post- Arizona SB1070” bill called the TRUST act, and on the day the Washington DC council is signed a similar bill (Bill 19-585) into law, more than twelve cities launched efforts to develop local policies that restore the trust in law enforcement damaged by the Department of Homeland Security’s coercive Secure Communities program. Groups are calling for an end to the program and urging local officials to join a trend of municipalities led by Cook County, IL, California, and Washington, DC to counter the criminalization of immigrants, to protect against racial profiling, and to prevent the wrongful extended incarceration of residents for the sole purpose of deportation by setting commonsense standards for how to respond to immigration authority’s voluntary hold requests.

Newly released FOIA documents illustrate that new policies in Cook County, IL, Santa Clara, California, and several municipalities are acting on solid legal grounds.  While state laws seeking to regulate immigration in Arizona, Alabama, and elsewhere have been generally found to be unconstitutionally preempted and violative of civil rights, local legislation to limit the effect of failed Department of Homeland Security policies is clearly permissible.

The restoring trust effort seeks common-sense local solutions that ensure federal immigration enforcement will not undermine public safety. California Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, sponsor of AB1081, the TRUST Act, explains, “California’s TRUST Act will make the state a model for transparency in the way local authorities cooperate with federal immigration authorities. It will remove the fear from interactions between local police and immigrant communities and by doing so will make our communities safer.”

Ron Hampton,  Executive Director Blacks in Law Enforcement in America,  added that from law enforcement’s perspective, “The bottom line is that ICE’s Secure Communities program is incompatible with community policing. Policing relies on partnerships with the communities served. It’s foolish to sever those relationships in order to enforce civil immigration laws. Police officers must create relationships to stop and prevent crime by gaining people’s trust. Secure Communities shatters their ability to do that. The federal government should not coerce local law enforcement to do the federal government’s job at a time of scarce resources, and certainly not at the cost of public safety. The federal government should follow common sense and heed the calls of law enforcement professionals and of local and congressional officials and finally terminate this failed deportation program.”

As seen in Arizona where immigration policies have created a humanitarian crisis, how localities respond to wrongful deportation is at its heart a moral question. Cardinal Mahoney, Archbishop Emeritus of Los Angeles, says, “Our primary concern is the human dignity of immigrant brothers and sisters.  What ICE has done is created an enormous feeling of fear and threat throughout the immigrant community. Because of Secure Communities immigrants are even terrified to call police when they’re a victim of a crime because they’re afraid they’ll be deported. Immigrants can be so valuable to keeping our communities safe but are afraid to do so. We must seek anything that can be done to diminish that fear and increase respect for the dignity of all people.”

Jesus Garcia, Cook County Commissioner and an early leader in restoring trust, explains, “The Sheriff of Cook County was detaining people who were in custody for small infractions of the law, namely traffic related matters. [It] was resulting in placing them in deportation, causing pain and suffering to many families. The practice was resulting in an increase in racial profiling in the County.  As we researched the issue, we found out that the belief that the ICE requests were mandatory was false. Local law enforcement was being bullied into responding to ICE detainer requests.  ICE detainers are in fact voluntary not mandatory. We enacted an ordinance last September whereby the County of Cook ended all cooperation with ICE detainer requests unless they had a warrant as is the normal practice. Those in custody could, like anyone else arrested under the law, secure a bond and seek their release. There have been efforts to scare people and play on fears [but] as we have informed people, what is at stake here is ensuring the constitutional guarantees of all people in the County. We will not honor ICE detainers because they are not founded on constitutional practices and put our County at a liability if we were to hold people without being required to do so.”

On a tele-briefing announcing the week of action, Maria Poblano, mother of four in Florida, explained the impact Secure communities has had on her family. “On March 6, my husband and I took our son to the emergency room. On our return home, a police officer stopped the car and started our nightmare. My husband was arrested and was taken from me crying in front of our children. He was placed into deportation proceedings as a result of the Secure Communities program and now has a court date in October. How is it possible that we’re in this situation for taking our children to the hospital, for loving our children and taking care of our family?  S-Comm has caused us to suffer both emotionally and economically. I hope they’ll stop this program because there are so many families like mine in Florida and other states. It only destroys families and leaves us more insecure.”

Leaders are calling upon local elected officials to take their own initiative to turn the tide against the broken immigration and detention system by enacting local policies that draw a bright line between local police and civil immigration enforcement.

As part of the initiative, groups launched a new website as a resource for faith leaders, local elected leaders, law enforcement leaders, and other concerned stakeholders.

Restoring Trust National Week of Action: List of Local Events July 9th-13th



Date/Time of Event:  Monday July 9th at 2:00pm pt

Location:  651 Pine Street – Martinez

Description: Vigil in front of Sheriff’s office to urge him to stop honor ICE holds and separating families and opposition to jail expansion in the county.


Date/Time of Event: Thursday July 12, 2012 at 9:30 am

Location: Los Angeles Men’s Central Jail 441 Bauchet Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012

Description: Press conference and rally outside detention center.


Date/Time of Event:  Monday July 9th – Friday July  13th

Description: Community based surveys happening throughout the week as part of the Trust Index Survey designed to measure how the community’s trust in law enforcement changes when local law enforcement agencies cooperate with Immigration and Custom’s Enforcement (ICE)


Date/Time of Event: Wednesday July 11th at 5:30pm pt – 8:00pm pt

Location: St Francis of Assisi Church 1425 Bay Road East Palo Alto, CA 94303

Description: Community forum impact of ICE holds on Juveniles. East Palo Alto and Redwood City are the highest cities to refer youth to ICE. Youth standing up to the immigration and detention will share powerful testimonies. Also 10min consultations with immigration lawyers.


Date/Time of Event: July 14th at 11:00am

Location: Benito Juarez High School 1510 W Cermak, Chicago, IL

Description: Democracy day includes workshops and a rally to continue to protect the ground breaking Cook County Ordinances on ICE holds and advance administrative relief for DREAMers



Date/Time of Event:  Monday July 9th – Friday July 13th

Location:  Miami, FL

Description: Community based surveys happening throughout the week as part of the Trust Index Survey designed to measure how the community’s trust in law enforcement changes when local law enforcement agencies cooperate with Immigration and Custom’s Enforcement (ICE)



Date/ Time of Event: Thursday July 12th at 11 am est

Location: Massachusetts State House (inside staircase) Beacon Street Boston, MA 02133

Description:  Press conference and announcement of commission to monitor S-Comm



Date/Time of Event: July 11, 2012 at 2:00pm

Location:  San Juan County Jail, Farmington, New Mexico

Description: Press Conference



Date/time: Wednesday July 11th at 11:00 am

Location: Voz Workers Rights Education Project 1131 SE Oak, Portland, Oregon 97214

Description:  Visit offices of County Commissioners to provide information on voluntary ICE holds requests.



Date/Time of Event: Wednesday July 11 at 12noon pm

Location: Travis County Sheriff’s Office at 5555 Airport Boulevard Austin, TX 78751

Description: Restoring Trust in Travis County” and will be a press conference and media event



Date/Time of Event: Wednesday July 11, 2012 at 6:00pm

Location: UU Church Burlington 152 Pearl Street, Burlington, VT 05401

Description: Migrant Justice, the UU Church, and NY Rural Migrant Ministry Will team up to share how the faith community can work in solidarity to stop anti-immigrant policies such as Secure Communities, and ‘ICE-Holds’ in defense of Human Rights.


Date/Time of Event: Tuesday July 10th at 9:30am

Location: Steps of the Wilson Building 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue NW Washington DC

Description: Press conference on the eve of passage of local bill to counteract impact of S-Comm and other harmful federal deportation programs

Supreme Court Says Yes to Racial Profiling

Latinos, Immigrant Communities Prepared to Voice Objections at Ballot Box


(WASHINGTON)—The Supreme Court today upheld Arizona’s vehemently anti-immigrant “show me your papers” law.

“The Supreme Court dealt a major setback to justice for everyone.  The impact of this decision will be an upsurge of racial profiling on a massive scale,” said Deepak Bhargava, Executive Director of the Campaign for Community Change. “The court has made a decision but the ultimate decision will rest with the voters.  The author of this law, state Senator Russell Pearce has already been recalled and voted out of office for his efforts and today’s divisive decision will undoubtedly result in record-breaking 2012 turnout in immigrant and Latino communities.”

“While today’s decision properly strikes down the majority of the Arizona law, our communities know that the only real solution is comprehensive immigration reform and we know that the only path forward to heal the country is for communities that are being targeted to mobilize, register and to vote in record numbers,” Bhargava added. “And that’s exactly what we will do in response to this sad day.”

The Campaign for Community Change and other groups advocating for comprehensive immigration reform, including Reform Immigration FOR America (RI4A) and the Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM), will unite in an unprecedented effort to register Latinos to vote to make sure that candidates who champion racial profiling laws are defeated in 2012. That goes for copycat Arizona laws on the ballot this year.

There will be voter registration rallies in many key states; voter education on why people must defeat anti-immigrant candidates and legislation, and; unprecedented grassroots efforts to turnout the largest number of Latinos in history to vote.

“Although the Supreme Court’s decision upheld an egregious law, we will not stop fighting to protect our basic civil rights,” Bhargava said. “We will build more power to demand respect and equal treatment under the law. Now is the time for fair-minded people from across the political spectrum to stand up to lawmakers who champion anti-immigrant, hate-filled policies by registering to vote so we can speak at the ballot box.”

You can follow our efforts on Twitter at #Justice4AZ and #SB1070.

Obama Administration Makes Dream Come True for DREAM Students

Halt to Deportation for ALL DREAMers

(WASHINGTON)—The Obama Administration today made the dream come true for DREAM students by immediately halting deportation for children who were brought to America by their immigrant parents and want nothing more than to continue their American dream.

 “Today’s decision is a huge victory for these courageous young men and women.  It grants them the opportunity to resolve their immigration status and work toward citizenship so they can continue giving back to the country they call home,” said Rich Stolz, Interim Director of the Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM). “This action makes sense, not only because it upholds basic notions of fairness, but because it is fully within the President’s authority.  We commend the Obama Administration for halting the deportation of young people whose parents brought them here as children. Now they can work on making their other dreams come true.”

“These children are American in every way, except for paperwork. They should be rewarded, not deported, for enrolling in school or joining the military so they can stay in their adopted country to study and work,” Stolz added.

“We have seen too many examples of young people full of potential facing deportation because they were not born in this country,” said Angelica Salas, Executive Director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights in Los Angeles, a member of FIRM. “As our opponents make every effort to demonize and dehumanize immigrants, it is a tremendous victory that the Obama Administration is showing America that immigrants and their families simply want to take part fully in American life, and want to give back to their adopted country. We will fight to defend this principled and important announcement.”

“The Obama Administration has also shown that it values keeping families united here in America as they work toward a path to citizenship. We hope the administration will continue on this forward path toward comprehensive immigration reform, and we will work with the Department of Homeland Security and other federal agencies to ensure that the policy is implemented successfully to bring real relief to young people and hope for their families,” Stolz said.

FIRM is a network of community-based immigrant advocacy organizations in 30 states.

Latino and Immigrant Leaders, Attorneys and Advocates Say Implementation of Prosecutorial Discretion Policy is Failing

One Year After Obama Administration Announces New Deportation Policy, Progress Report Using DHS Data Shows Fewer Individuals Getting Relief and Those Getting Relief are Getting a Worse Deal

Washington, DC – After a growing outcry by immigrants, allies, and Members of Congress, outraged at the record number of deportations carried out by the Obama Administration, the Department of Homeland Security announced a new policy in June 2011 that was supposed to focus immigration enforcement on the “worst of the worst” and spare individuals who have been in the U.S. for years, raising families.  Immigrants and their allies applauded these changes and hoped they would be implemented fairly, finally allowing long-time U.S. residents, parents of U.S. citizen children, and young people eligible for the DREAM Act to live their lives with less fear.  Unfortunately, a year has passed since the policy was announced, and very little has changed.  In some cases, the situation has even gotten worse.

The Administration’s original policy changes, detailed in memos from ICE Director John Morton and DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano in the summer of 2011, involved an unprecedented review of hundreds of thousands of pending deportation cases.  The Department pledged to close the cases of individuals who didn’t meet their enforcement “priorities.”  On a press call today, immigration lawyers, community leaders, and advocates, representing a broad spectrum of Latino and immigrant communities, declared the Department of Homeland Security’s implementation of the new enforcement priorities is failing and asked the Obama Administration to take immediate action to fully implement this policy by protecting families, DREAM Act eligible youth, and those standing up for their civil and labor rights.

Leaders expressed serious alarm at information provided by DHS about the implementation of this policy.  Only 1.5% of pending cases have actually been closed and when the initial reviews are complete experts estimate that 4-5% of the cases reviewed will be closed. This number is abysmally low, given the huge number of immigrants with no criminal records who are currently in deportation proceedings.

According to Crystal Williams, Executive Director, American Immigration Lawyers Association, “In June 2011, ICE set out to make an irrational machine run a little more rationally.  They laid out all the best tools to do so, but then chose to work only with one worn wrench.  Is it any wonder that little has been improved?”

In an NPR interview over the weekend, ICE director John Morton made the hollow case that ICE has succeeded in focusing deportations on serious criminals and claimed that “people who’ve been here for a very long period of time and have no criminal record and are removed from the United States is, in fact, quite rare.  Those people are not our priority and we don’t seek to remove them in large numbers.”  However, a front page Washington Post story today highlights the case of a Virginia DREAMer, Heydi Mejia, a graduating high school senior who’s facing deportation just a few days after accepting a her diploma.  “In Mejia’s case, what should be done with an illegal immigrant who came to the country at age 4; who speaks better English than Spanish; who wants to attend Randolph-Macon College in Virginia and become a nurse; whose knowledge about modern Guatemala comes in part from what she’s read on Wikipedia?”

Said Frank Sharry, Executive Director, America’s Voice Education Fund, “Something is seriously wrong when an honor student who came at the age of 4 and who has broken no laws is scheduled for deportation under a program whose head administrator claims only focused primarily on serious criminals. A year ago, we applauded the changes the Obama administration announced to their deportation policies, and we were hopeful that they would bring a new era of humane immigration enforcement.  However, a year later we are sad to declare that the implementation of this policy change is failing. This policy has not made things better, in many cases it’s actually made things worse.”

On today’s call, speakers discussed the release of a new report from Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM), titled “Restore the Promise of Prosecutorial Discretion,” which focuses on the human impact of DHS’s failure, analyzes available data on the Administration’s initiative to date and its implications for the families of immigrants, and provides recommendations on what DHS and Immigration and Customs Enforcement must do to restore the credibility of this policy in immigrant communities. The report outlines four recommendations, the foremost of which is ensuring that the policy actually protects families from separation.

According to Angelica Salas, Executive Director, Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, “Our patience has been exhausted.  The Obama Administration has to ensure that DHS implement prosecutorial discretion with the full intent and spirit of the policy.  DHS has to act otherwise we will conclude that the lack of implementation is purposeful and in direct contradiction to the original June 17, 2011 discretion memo.”

Saket Soni, Executive Director of the New Orleans Workers Center for Racial Justice, agreed.  He helped launch the Stand Up 2012: Make Justice Real campaign to fight for the rights of immigrants standing up for labor and civil rights, and holding the Administration accountable to promises laid out in a second memo, which instructs ICE to exercise “all appropriate discretion” for individuals “pursuing legitimate civil rights complaints” including  “individuals engaging in a protected activity related to civil or other rights (for example, union organizing or complaining to authorities about employment discrimination or housing conditions) who may be in a non-frivolous dispute with an employer, landlord, or contractor.” According to Soni: “The prosecutorial discretion policy calls on ICE to protect immigrants who are defending civil rights. Instead ICE is pressing for their deportation. And the Obama Administration is letting ICE break the promise of basic civil rights to millions of immigrants.”

Last month, leaders from the United We DREAM Network (UWD) and their locally-led organizations launched the “Right to DREAM” campaign with rallies, marches, and protests around the country to demand that President Obama use his power to stop tearing immigrant families apart and provide real and lasting relief for DREAM Act eligible youth.  In a newly released memo to the White House, nearly 100 law professors have outlined the three legal mechanisms that President Obama could apply, using his executive authority, to grant proactive relief for DREAM Act eligible youth.

Gaby Pacheco, Education not Deportation (END) Project Coordinator, United We Dream Network said, “I think all of us were really excited to see how the Administration’s prosecutorial discretion policy would roll out, but over the last year, all we’ve seen are families divided and DREAMers deported.  The President has clear legal authority to give our community relief, yet he continues to say he doesn’t have the power.  Rest assured, we will continue to move forward with our ‘Right to Dream” campaign and take our voices to the White House and to his campaign offices until we see Obama exercise leadership.  How can we believe in a powerless President?”

According to Clarissa Martinez de Castro, Director of Immigration and National Campaigns, National Council of La Raza, “Elevating national security and community safety above all else is a priority we can all get behind—it serves the public good and with it, brings some relief to families across America who continue to suffer the consequences of Congressional inaction on immigration.  We cannot be at war with our own values and principles, and the rightful  and effective use of prosecutorial discretion can help address that.  But so far, implementation has been dismal.  We need bold action to ensure that what can be done is reflected in what is being done.”



Repealing HB56 is Alabama Lawmaker’s Only Option

Gov. Bentley Must Go Further Than Objecting to Parts of the Bill

Alabama state lawmakers must stop making futile attempts to revise their anti-immigrant law, HB56, and their only recourse is to repeal it, the Fair Immigration Reform Movement said today.

“The tinkering, tweaking and toying with HB56 does not address its underlying flaws of totally violating the civil rights of undocumented immigrants in Alabama,” said Rich Stolz, Interim Director of FIRM, a network of community-based immigrant advocacy organizations in 30 states. “Gov. Robert Bentley today sent the bill back for reconsideration. He correctly objected to parts of it, but Bentley must show his constituents that he will stand up for Alabama’s reputation and economy and call on the bill’s total repeal.”

Yesterday, the Republican controlled Senate passed a so called ‘tweak bill’ that made the law even harsher.  The bill includes a sweetheart deal for large businesses in the state concerned about complying with employee verification requirements, and they changed language to try to prevent the detention of more foreign business executives. Bentley objected to the part of the bill that changed the way public schools collect information from students, saying he did not want kids asked about their parents’ legal status. He also objected to the provision requiring the Department of Homeland Security to post a quarterly list of the names of any undocumented immigrant who appears in court for a violation of state law, regardless of whether they were convicted.

Bentley did not go far enough in his objections, and his actions today are small consolation to farmers desperate to find workers or businesses and residents concerned about the impact HB56 has had on the state’s reputation.  These changes, if anything, only exacerbate worries over racial profiling, undermine trust between law enforcement and immigrant communities, encourage vigilante harassment and send a message that immigrants, or anyone that looks like one, is unwelcome in Alabama.

“States like Alabama and Arizona have shown a complete unwillingness to enact fair immigration laws and as the Supreme Court weighs its decision on Arizona’s SB1070, the high court must be mindful of how much damage state lawmakers can do when allowed to set policies that clearly violate the civil rights of citizens,” Stolz added.

Immigrant Rights Groups Commend Rep. Gutierrez for Fighting to Stop Deportation of South Carolina Man

Gutierrez’s Help Keeps Gabino Sanchez With His Family

(WASHINGTON)—The Fair Immigration Reform Movement, a network of community-based immigrant advocacy organizations in 30 states, today commended Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) for fighting to stop the deportation of a South Carolina man. Gutierrez’s efforts on behalf of Gabino Sanchez have helped keep Sanchez with his family while he works to resolve his case with immigration officials.

Sanchez, 27, has lived in the United States since he left his native Mexico when he was 14. Sanchez came to the U.S. to work and send money to his family. He is a construction and landscape worker from Ridgeland, S.C. He is married and has two children, both American citizens. Sanchez had been arrested for driving without a license, a misdemeanor.

Yet immigration officials had targeted Sanchez for deportation although the Obama Administration had directed federal officials to review more than 300,000 cases currently in deportation proceedings to identify low-priority individuals whose cases could be closed because they had strong ties to the United States and they posed no threat to society.

Today, Rep. Gutierrez and Mr. Sanchez had the support of hundreds of North Carolina residents who gathered at the immigration courthouse in Charlotte.

“We thank Rep. Gutierrez for working on behalf of Sanchez and his family, to keep them together,” said Rich Stolz, FIRM interim director. “The lengthy fight to keep Mr. Sanchez with his family in the United States is an example of how the prosecutorial discretion policy announced by the Obama Administration last year has fallen short of expectations in the immigrant and Latino community. This is only one example of thousands who deserve to stay with their loved ones.”

May Day Events Across Nation Highlight Growing Movement for Immigration Rights

“May Day” is celebrated worldwide to show support and solidarity for workers’ rights, and in the United States May Day has become a traditional day to show solidarity among workers and immigrant rights. Members of the Fair Immigration Reform movement, a network of community-based immigrant advocacy organizations in 30 states, are celebrating May Day nationwide with events calling on the Supreme Court to remember the human consequences of Arizona’s immigration law, calling on an end to deportations and the separation of families, and for just and humane immigration reform.

Last Wednesday, the Supreme Court heard arguments on SB 1070, Arizona’s vehemently anti-immigrant law. Legal experts opined that the justices seemed to agree with portions of the law, and if upheld, would put setback any gains made in the fight for comprehensive immigration reform.

“If the Supreme Court sides with SB 1070, the decision will rip our country apart and show that the justices were blind to the human consequences of this racist legislation,” said Deepak Bhargava, Executive Director of the Center for Community Change. “May Day events will show that immigrants and immigrants’ rights groups will not stop fighting to achieve fair comprehensive immigration reform

Thousands Call For Supreme Court to Strike Down Anti-Immigrant Arizona Law to Show They Care for Human Rights

Thousands of grassroots leaders today called on the Supreme Court to strike down Arizona’s anti-immigrant law to show they care for human rights, unity and justice for all.

Arizona’s SB 1070, infamously referred to as the “show me your papers” law, and similar laws enacted in other states, has undermined basic civil and human rights and essentially has legalized harassment and discrimination, said leaders of the Fair Immigration Reform Movement, a network of community-based immigrant advocacy organizations in 25 states.

“SB 1070 takes a sledgehammer to human rights, destroying what America has always been known for: a nation that prides itself on justice for all,” said Deepak Bhargava, Executive Director of the Center for Community Change. “Under SB 1070, there is only justice for people with the right skin color.”

“Arizona’s proposed solution to our broken immigration system, like Alabama’s law and the anti-immigrant laws passed by several other states, is no solution at all.  America’s immigrants are our neighbors, our co-workers and our future,” said John Wilhelm, President of UNITE Here. “Criminalization and unfair targeting of our immigrant brothers and sisters is nothing more than scapegoating aimed at dividing us and distracting our attention from the real problems we face – a lack of good jobs and the capture of our political system by the rich and powerful.”

Warren Stewart, senior pastor of the First Institutional Baptist Church in Phoenix, Ariz., was among the Arizonans who traveled to Washington to protest outside the Supreme Court. Stewart is also chairman of the board of directors for the National Immigration Forum, and a board member of Promise Arizona. Stewart noted that former Arizona Senate President Russell Pearce spoke at a counter rally at the Supreme Court this morning, and reminded participants that Pearce, author of SB1070, was removed from office by recall because of his extremism on immigration and other issues important to Arizonans, and emphasized the growing power of a new civil rights movement in America.

Alabama Democratic State Senator Hank Sanders described that the Alabama legislature is poised to make several changes to its own copycat of the Arizona immigration law.  He has called on his own legislature to repeal Alabama’s law, which has become a potent reminder of Alabama’s racial history.  Sanders also said he has been inspired by the coming together of African America, Latino, immigrant and other communities demanding an end to Arizona-style laws.

Gustavo Torres, Executive Director of CASA de Maryland, emphasized the sense of unity among participants:

“We are united–Latinos, immigrants, civil rights organizations, African American leaders, Asian American leaders, organized labor and faith leaders–in calling for unity and justice in America.  One good thing that SB1070 and other laws that have attacked worker rights, voting rights
and immigrant rights has done is to bring us together,” Torres said.

Supreme Court Hearing on Arizona’s Anti-Immigrant Law Will Show if Justices Value Human Rights

The decision the Supreme Court makes regarding Arizona’s vehemently anti-immigrant law will show whether the justices value human rights, said members of the Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM), a network of community-based immigrant advocacy organizations in 25 states.

“Tomorrow’s hearing on Arizona’s ‘show me your papers’ law is a litmus test to see if the rights of all people are valued by the highest court in America,” said Deepak Bhargava, Executive Director of the Center for Community Change. “Arizona’s SB1070 is a thinly veiled attempt to isolate immigrants and people of color and to deny them the basic rights everyone deserves.”

“Unfortunately, other states have followed Arizona’s example in demonizing immigrants,” said Gustavo Torres, Executive Director of CASA de Maryland. “When children in Maryland watch reports from Arizona and learn their families are vilified, it is a national crisis and requires national action to mandate dignified standards for everyone.”

“Arizona has exceeded its authority under the Constitution by enacting its own immigration laws, hurting its own economy, causing untold suffering for immigrant families and harming the basic rights of its citizens. The Supreme Court must set things right by striking down Arizona’s SB1070,” said Petra Falcon, Executive Director of Promise Arizona.

The Center for Community Change, CASA de Maryland and Promise Arizona will be among the thousands of FIRM members who will rally and march in front of the Supreme Court tomorrow to show support for human rights.

Law Enforcement, Faith, and Civil Rights Leaders Support Landmark Federal Challenge to Arizona Anti-Immigrant Law

Bishop, Police Chief, Congressman, and Civil Rights Advocates File Friend-of-the-Court Briefs in Support of Department of Justice Challenge to Arizona Racial Profiling Law

LOS ANGELES — Calling it “an affront to basic rights,” law enforcement, civil rights, faith leaders and a Congressman decried Arizona’s SB 1070 and urged the Supreme Court to maintain a lower court’s order blocking the law’s most pernicious elements from going into effect. SB 1070, which the Arizona legislature passed in April 2010, was, at the time, considered the most draconian anti-immigrant legislation in the country. The individuals who participated in the call explained why they or their organizations chose to make the Supreme Court aware of their opposition to SB 1070 by filing friend-of-the-court briefs.

“These laws may inhibit the Church’s ability to be the Church — to care for people, to provide them solace,” said Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento, who spoke on behalf of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. “Many of these laws put that very essential and positive work of not just the Catholic Church, but also other faith communities, at risk. For that reason, we are extremely concerned about this very imprudent and impractical trend in state legislation, and support the case against SB 1070.”

After the U.S. Department of Justice challenged SB 1070 in court and won an injunction, Arizona appealed the lower court’s decision. The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on the landmark case on April 25. Although the case before the Supreme Court focuses on Arizona’s law, communities across the country will feel the effects of the Court’s decision: cases in Utah, Georgia, South Carolina, and Alabama regarding Arizona-inspired legislation have been put on hold pending the Supreme Court’s ruling in U.S. v. Arizona.

“Police departments have a main priority of reducing crime and making communities safe,” said Jack Harris, former chief of police of Phoenix, Arizona. “The problem with laws like SB 1070, and the reason so many law enforcement officers oppose it, is because it diverts limited resources away from serious crime fighting.”

More than 350 individuals and organizations from myriad sectors of society filed friend-of-the court briefs expressing support for the Department of Justice’s opposition to Arizona’s law, which, if allowed to go into effect, would mandate that law enforcement officials ask for proof of immigration status if they “reasonably suspect” that a person lacks proper authorization to live in the country. Judith Browne Dianis, co-director of the Advancement Project, pointed to the discriminatory aspect of SB 1070, which could force people who have been American citizens all their lives to be subject to racial profiling.

Said Browne Dianis, “Racial profiling against African Americans, immigrants, and others is wrong and illegal. It undermines the principle that we are all equal under the law. If the Supreme Court validates 1070, it will open the floodgates for other states to take such action.”

Other notable individuals and organizations that express opposition to SB 1070 include former U.S. Department of State officials, who explain that laws such as SB 1070 interfere with the United States’ ability to engage in foreign policy, as well as former commissioners of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (the former agency whose functions are now performed by subdivisions of the Department of Homeland Security), who argue that SB 1070 interferes with the federal government’s own immigration policy priorities.

“We can turn back the tide on laws that specifically target immigrants for harassment and also end up harming so many others,” said Congressman Luis Gutierrez. “We can set a tone for the future where the tone of someone’s face or the dust on their work boots doesn’t make them a target.”

Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, said, “Our country’s greatness is derived from its diversity. No law should force those of us who look or sound ‘foreign’ to be subject to racial profiling or other discrimination. Unfortunately, Arizonans’ basic rights will be at risk if SB 1070 is allowed to go into effect, and the ramifications of this decision will be felt across the country. We hope that the Supreme Court will protect basic liberty and justice for all, and strike this ill-conceived law from Arizona’s books.”

For more information about U.S. v Arizona, please visit

More information about the friend-of-the-court briefs can be found at

A recording of the telephonic news conference is available at

A news release issued by Congressman Gutierrez in conjunction with this press conference is available here.