The Supreme Court invalidated most provisions of Arizona’s draconian anti-immigration law, known as S.B. 1070, including Section 6 which granted state police greater authority than federal officers to make warrantless arrests of anyone they suspected of being undocumented. The decision upholds, however, the clearly discriminatory Section 2b – the “show me your papers” provision – which allows police to demand proof of immigration status from individuals they stop, detain or arrest. The Court did not rule on challenges to that provision which question its discriminatory effects. It will likely hear additional challenges on those grounds at a later time.
“Today’s decision is a partial but important victory against S.B. 1070,” said Michael Keegan, President of People For the American Way, “and yet another reminder of how important it is that Congress move quickly to pass comprehensive immigration reform. The Court’s decision to uphold, for now, one of the most oppressive provisions of S.B. 1070 makes it painfully obvious how damaging the Republican obstruction on comprehensive immigration reform has been. No one should be forced to prove their right to be in this country simply because of the way they look, dress, or speak. These are not the American values we treasure, and we will continue to fight against these provisions in the courts, the Congress, and the halls of state legislatures.
“It’s deeply concerning that Section 2b is still in effect—especially given the reckless and dangerous rhetoric of Governor Brewer and Sheriff Arpaio. Today’s decision is important, but it is certainly not the end of this fight.
“The President recently took a courageous step to help young people – brought to the United States through no fault of their own – stay in this country and continue to contribute to their communities. Republicans in Congress should follow this example and suspend their obstruction of meaningful comprehensive reform to address the immigration crisis. Continuing to shirk that responsibility encourages dangerous state laws that threaten our civil liberties and harms hardworking individuals who have worked hard to live up to American ideals.”
Although the DREAM Act seemed to remain a dream after being blocked by Senate Republicans in 2010, the Obama administration has recently taken steps to make staying in the United States a reality for thousands of young undocumented immigrants.
Last Friday, President Obama announced a new policy directive to allow undocumented immigrants under the age of 30 to apply for a two-year, renewable work permit if they met an array of criteria, including arriving to the United States before the age of 16, and are in high school, graduated from high school, or were honorably discharged from the armed forces. The plan doesn’t grant amnesty or a road to citizenship; but as the president stated, it is a “temporary solution” and “the right thing to do.”
This decision will positively impact up to 800,000 law-abiding, hard-working Americans who have until now lived in constant fear of deportation. One such DREAMer is 26 year-old Mohammad Abdollahi, who immigrated to this nation at the age of three from Iran. His family’s visa soon expired and was not renewed. Not only has Mohammad had to live the majority of his life in fear of deportation, but the price of being sent back to Iran was incredibly high. Mohammad is openly gay and due to Iran’s policy of capital punishment towards gay individuals, his deportation could be a death sentence.
With his life literally on the line, and running out of options, Mohammad became one of the first students to come out as undocumented in an attempt to pressure congress to pass the DREAM Act in 2010. Although the act didn’t pass, he hasn’t given up the fight. When President Obama made this historic announcement last week, Mohammad was occupying an Obama re-election office in Deerborn, Michigan as a symbolical plea directed towards the president to take action. This change in policy ends this nightmare for Mohammad and so many other DREAMers like him.
In his address in the Rose Garden, President Obama stated, “We are a better nation than one that expels innocent young kids.” Sadly, it seems many Republicans in Congress don’t share this value. After the announcement, Republican House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith of Texas claimed, "President Obama's decision to grant amnesty to potentially millions of illegal immigrants is a breach of faith with the American people…It also blatantly ignores the rule of law that is the foundation of our democracy.”
Not only is Rep. Smith just flat wrong to claim that the plan grants “amnesty,” he appears to believe that the foundation of our democracy requires ridding our nation of young, productive and patriotic members of society. Republicans should wake up and embrace this change as an opportunity to finally be a part of a more permanent solution.
The Republican National Committee’s Hispanic Outreach Director Bettina Inclan sparked a mini-firestorm today when she told reporters that she could not comment on Romney’s immigration positions because “he’s still deciding what his position on immigration is.” She later tried to clean up the mess by tweeting that she was mistaken, and that his position was clear, linking to his website.
Unfortunately for Romney and for the RNC’s Hispanic outreach, his position is all too clear: he opposes not only “amnesty” but all “magnets” – such as the DREAM Act or in-state tuition for students whose parents brought them here as children. Romney has backed legislation, like Arizona’s, that has the goal of making life for undocumented immigrants so miserable that they will choose to “self-deport.” That’s a bit much even for some right-wing activists, including some of those at the Freedom Federation’s recent Awakening conference in Orlando, Florida, where one speaker called the “self-deportation” approach “cruel” and “unbiblical” and where the Southern Baptists’ Richard Land called the GOP’s positions on immigration policy “dismal” and “indefensible.”