Posts Tagged ‘SB1070’

News Digest 3/28/12

Wednesday, March 28, 2012 at 5:00 pm by

News Digest 2/28/12

Tuesday, February 28, 2012 at 5:00 pm by

News Digest 2/7/12

Tuesday, February 7, 2012 at 5:00 pm by

News Digest 1/10/12

Tuesday, January 10, 2012 at 5:00 pm by

Supreme Court to review constitutionality of Arizona’s immigration law

Monday, December 19, 2011 at 9:03 pm by

SB1070 Rally @ the White HouseThe Supreme Court agreed last Monday to review the constitutionality of Arizona’s Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act, commonly known as SB 1070. Before the Court is the question of whether four provisions of SB 1070, namely sections 2(B), 3, 5(C), and 6, are preempted under federal immigration laws.

The case began when the United States sued Arizona in federal court, arguing that SB 1070 violates the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution on the basis of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) and other federal laws. Under theSupremacy Clause, a state law is preempted when Congress explicitly asserts its intent to preempt in a statute, when Congress has legislated with such detail that it can be said to have “occupied the field,” or when state law conflicts with a federal statute.

The district court initially granted the federal government’s request for an injunction preventing the implementation of SB 1070’s four sections. On appeal, the Ninth Circuit considered each of the four sections and ultimately upheld the lower court’s ruling.

Section 2(B) calls on a police officer to check the immigration status of an individual who was lawfully stopped, arrested, or detained if the police officer has “reasonable suspicion” that the individual is an unauthorized immigrant.


News Digest 12/12/2011

Monday, December 12, 2011 at 5:00 pm by

Privatization of prisons and the demise of criminal justice

Sunday, November 13, 2011 at 5:32 pm by

Jail CellAmericans desire a criminal justice system that promotes safety, upholds fairness, and operates cost-effectively. However, the privatization of prisons obstructs the realization of these three tenets. A report released earlier this month by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) reveals the destructive practices of for-profit prisons.

Since the inception of the “war on drugs,” the prison population in the US has skyrocketed, particularly with the implementation of mandatory minimum sentencing, truth in sentencing, and three strikes laws. While many politicians desire to appear “tough on crime,” in actuality, these policies weaken communities and infringe on basic liberties.

Between 1970 and 2005, the number of people incarcerated in the United States grew by 700%. Today, the United States incarcerates approximately 2.3 million people. According to the Congressional Research Service, the United States has only 5% of the world’s populatin [sic] but a full 25% of its prisoners.

As the report notes, the explosive rate of incarceration over the last few decades coincides with a growing dependence on the privatized prison industry. Private prisons did not exist in America at the beginning of the 1980s, but since their establishment, incarceration in these facilities has increased by 1600%.

This exponential increase has lined the pockets of many prison corporations, which has encouraged them to support legislation that is likely to increase the prison population. In fact, the Corrections Corporations of America has been a longtime supporter of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), an organization that acquaints state legislators with corporate powers to write model legislation, which the legislators take back home and introduce. ALEC has written dozens of model bills promoting tough-on-crime policies and requiring the use of private institutions.

Immigration detention is yet another money-making opportunity on which prison corporations have certainly capitalized. One group suggests that privatized prisons house around 50 percent of all immigrants detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. ALEC has also been involved in tightening immigration laws, like Arizona’s Senate Bill 1070, which requires people to provide documentation of their lawful presence in the country and would likely increase the number of immigrants detained.

Privatization often emerges under the guise of cost-effectiveness, but as the report uncovers, research indicates that private prisons do not save money and may actually cost more than government-run institutions. Most concerning is the incentive for private prisons to cut costs on safety and conditions. Several studies suggest that more violence occurs in private prisons, including both inmate-on-inmate incidents and altercations between staff and inmates. Also, private prisons present alarming cases of unsafe conditions, including sexual assaults of inmates by staff. Since prison corporations have little incentive to reduce future crime, private prisons often neglect to offer adequate rehabilitation programs. One study finds that inmates of private prisons have a higher rate of recidivism.

Given the evidence that for-profit prisons do more harm than good, we should thoroughly investigate their practices and seriously reconsider how much influence the prison industry has on our lawmaking process.

Vermont bans police from questioning immigration status in non-criminal matters

Tuesday, November 8, 2011 at 6:15 pm by

The charge that a person or policy is akin to “Nazism” is thrown around far too often. Clearly that moniker should be reserved for ideas and policies that are so vile and sinister that they are abhorrent to our collective and individual humanity. That said, what has happened in Arizona and Alabama with regards to immigration in the last year probably rises to that level. Anti-immigrant furor has led to ill-advised laws requiring classes of people to keep documentation of their status with them at all times in addition to allowing police virtually unfettered power to question a person’s immigration status. But that trend might be changing.

NYC POLICE MUSEUM VERMONT STATE POLICEThis past week, Vermont Governor Pete Shumlin amended state policy to focus law enforcement on investigating criminal activity rather than delving into individual immigration status. Essentially, VT police will no longer be allowed to inquire as to an individual’s immigration status when investigating a civil violation, such as most motor vehicle infractions. However, Vermont police retain the ability the question one’s status in the course of a criminal investigation.

Proponents laud the shift, though at least one group has “expressed concern about when police can ask about immigration status.” Others, including the ACLU, give the policy high marks for clearly delineating that immigration enforcement is the responsibility of the federal government and not the individual states. On the flip side, opponents are furious over the lack of enforcement of the nation’s immigration laws and see this as further restraint on police departments’ ability to enforce the law.

Those who argue that a policy preventing law enforcement from checking a person’s immigration status condones illegal behavior are missing the bigger picture.  The nation has always drawn distinctions between crimes that are morally wrong (malum in se) and those that are merely prohibited (malum prohibitum). Being in the country illegally is not morally wrong—it is wrong because the state has said it is wrong. Further, Vermont and the ACLU are correct to note that the duty of enforcing the nation’s immigration laws properly belongs to the federal government and not the states. Requiring police to inquire into a person’s citizenship status when there may be suspicion that s/he is undocumented prevents them from carrying out their duties to investigate and prevent harmful criminal activity. And that doesn’t even delve into the question of what this so-called suspicion is based on (often racial profiling under immigration laws such as Arizona’s and Alabama’s). The point here is that local law enforcement agents have an extremely important job to do and we shouldn’t detract from that by forcing them to also enforce the nation’s immigration laws. Vermont seems to get that and it is at least a small step in the right direction.

South Carolina’s immigration law causes fear among Latino communities

Sunday, October 16, 2011 at 5:21 pm by

South Carolina Welcomes YouSouth Carolina’s stringent new immigration law, modeled after Arizona’s widely condemned SB 1070, was passed just months ago. At the press conference where she signed the bill, Governor Nikki Haley remarked that “illegal immigration is not welcome in South Carolina” but suggested that “legal immigration is more than welcome in South Carolina.” Contrary to her statements, however, all immigrants, whether legal or undocumented, have become quite fearful of the law.

According to an article in the Greenville News, the new law causes great unease among Latinos in the Palmetto State. Just as many blacks have been targeted for “driving while black,” Latinos have experienced similar treatment and fear further profiling stemming from the new law.

Many also fear that the law enables employers to exploit undocumented workers. South Carolina requires the use of E-Verify, a federal program that checks the legal status of employees. If undocumented workers wish to remain employed in South Carolina, they will not be able to seek new employment without failing the E-Verify check. As a Latino employer suggests in the article, “it could trap immigrants who are here illegally in their current jobs, since a new job triggers a background check.” Employers aware of this trap might violate traditional labor laws regarding pay or workplace conditions, and undocumented employees would have no legal recourse.

Another Latino resident notes, “This type of law, I wonder if it indeed enhances the quality of life of anybody. And if the intention is to protect, then it should be something we ask of everybody, not just foreigners.”

UNDIVIDED: Three communities, One struggle

Sunday, October 9, 2011 at 6:46 pm by

Across the country, communities are uniting against the onslaught of unjust immigration policies. A new documentary reveals this struggle by spotlighting the efforts of young activists from different parts of the country. UNDIVIDED was directed by Sophia Cooper and produced by the Center for New Community, a national organization aimed at building communities around equality and justice.  Though it has not yet been released for widespread viewing, the 30-minute documentary was screened in Washington, DC, last Tuesday, October 4, 2011, and is available on YouTube.

UNDIVIDED reveals the real pain and heartache that communities endure because of nonsensical immigration policies. The film begins in Tucson, Arizona, located at the center of one of the toughest immigration measures ever passed in the US. Since the passage of Senate Bill 1070, many families live in constant terror of being split up. Despite the fear of division, organizations and communities from around the country have united to lend a hand. Some groups provide medical assistance to immigrants at the border, where thousands of people have died in their attempts to immigrate to America. Other groups work on the grassroots level, even from the other side of the country. Students at Howard University, a historically black college in DC, have started a national alliance to identify and speak out against anti-immigrant groups.

The documentary also highlights the story of Araceli Guzman-Rios, who was recently forced to return to Mexico, even though her husband and children remain in the US. Araceli will have to spend nearly a year apart from her family before applying for residency. Even then, the process requires thousands of dollars, which the family cannot afford. However, the family was able to raise a significant amount of money though the assistance of Community Action & Defense, a network of activists in the Bay Area.

UNDIVIDED showcases the strength of America. As nativist laws attempt to ingrain in Americans an “us” vs. “them” mentality, these activists illustrate that America is one body that cannot be divided. Be on the lookout for this inspirational film, potentially at a film festival near you. But in the meantime, you can help to strengthen this united effort by addressing these issues in your own community. Consider joining the Local Civil Rights Restoration Campaign.