RIGHTS GROUPS FILE CLASS ACTION CHALLENGING ARIZONA LAW
Here's the news release from the ACLU:
American Civil Liberties Union and a coalition of civil rights groups filed a
class action lawsuit today in the U.S. District Court for the District of
Arizona challenging Arizona's new law requiring police to demand
"papers" from people they stop who they suspect are not authorized to
be in the U.S. The extreme law, the coalition charged, invites the racial
profiling of people of color, violates the First Amendment and interferes with
The coalition filing the lawsuit includes the ACLU, MALDEF, National
Immigration Law Center (NILC), the National Association for the Advancement of
Colored People (NAACP), ACLU of Arizona, National Day Laborer Organizing
Network (NDLON) and the Asian Pacific American Legal Center (APALC) - a member
of the Asian American Center for Advancing Justice.
"Arizona's law is quintessentially un-American: we are not a 'show me your
papers' country, nor one that believes in subjecting people to harassment,
investigation and arrest simply because others may perceive them as
foreign," said Omar Jadwat, a staff attorney with the ACLU Immigrants'
Rights Project. "This law violates the Constitution and interferes with
federal law, and we are confident that we will prevent it from ever taking
The lawsuit charges that the Arizona law unlawfully interferes with federal
power and authority over immigration matters in violation of the Supremacy
Clause of the U.S. Constitution; invites racial profiling against people of
color by law enforcement in violation of the equal protection guarantee and
prohibition on unreasonable seizures under the 14th and Fourth Amendments; and
infringes on the free speech rights of day laborers and others in Arizona.
"This discriminatory law pushes Arizona into a spiral of fear, increased
crime and costly litigation," said Victor Viramontes, MALDEF Senior
National Counsel. "We expect that this misguided law will be enjoined
before it takes effect."
One of the individuals the coalition is representing in the case, Jim Shee, is
a U.S.-born 70-year-old American citizen of Spanish and Chinese descent. Shee
asserts that he will be vulnerable to racial profiling under the law, and that,
although the law has not yet gone into effect, he has already been stopped
twice by local law enforcement officers in Arizona and asked to produce his
Another plaintiff, Jesus Cuauhtémoc Villa, is a resident of the state of New
Mexico who is currently attending Arizona State University. The state of New
Mexico does not require proof of U.S. citizenship or immigration status to
obtain a driver's license. Villa does not have a U.S. passport and does not
want to risk losing his birth certificate by carrying it with him. He worries
about traveling in Arizona without a valid form of identification that would
prove his citizenship to police if he is pulled over. If he cannot supply proof
upon demand, Arizona law enforcement is required to arrest and detain him.
Several prominent law enforcement groups, including the Arizona Association of
Chiefs of Police, oppose the law because it diverts limited resources from law
enforcement's primary responsibility of providing protection and promoting
public safety in the community and undermines trust and cooperation between
local police and immigrant communities.
"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 NILC. "Arizona's authorities should not allow public safety to take a
back seat to racial profiling."
"African-Americans know all too well the insidious effects of racial
profiling," said Benjamin Todd Jealous, President and Chief Executive
Officer of the NAACP. "The government should be preventing police from
investigating and detaining people based on color and accent, not mandating it.
Laws that encourage discrimination have no place in this country anywhere for
"This extreme law puts Arizona completely out of step with American values
of fairness and equality," said Julie Su, Litigation Director of the
APALC. "In a state where U.S. citizens of Japanese descent were interned
during World War II, it is deeply troubling that a law that would mandate
lower-class treatment of people of color, immigrants and others seen to be
outsiders would pass in 2010."
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of labor, domestic violence, day laborer, human
services and social justice organizations, including Friendly House, Service
Employees International Union (SEIU), SEIU Local 5, United Food and Commercial
Workers International (UFCW), Arizona South Asians for Safe Families (ASAFSF),
Southside Presbyterian Church, Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Asian
Chamber of Commerce of Arizona, Border Action Network, Tonatierra Community
Development Institute, Muslim American Society, Japanese American Citizens
League, Valle del Sol, Inc., Coalicíon De Derechos Humanos, and individual
named plaintiffs who will be subject to harassment or arrest under the law and
a class of similarly situated persons.
"Day laborers have repeatedly defended their First Amendment rights in
federal courts and successfully established their undeniable right to seek work
in public areas," said Pablo Alvarado, Executive Director of NDLON.
"Arizona's effort to criminalize day laborers and migrants is an affront
to the Constitution and threatens to disrupt national unity, and we are
confident that federal courts will intervene to ensure the protection of our
bedrock civil rights."
Even prior to the passage of the statute, local enforcement of federal
immigration law has already caused rampant racial profiling of Latinos in
Arizona, most notably in Maricopa County. The ACLU, MALDEF and other members of
the coalition have several pending lawsuits against government officials in
Arizona because of civil rights abuses of U.S. citizens and immigrants.
Organizations and attorneys on the case, Friendly House et al. v. Whiting et
Immigrants' Rights Project:
Jadwat, Lucas Guttentag, Cecillia Wang, Tanaz Moghadam and Harini P.
- MALDEF: Viramontes, Tom Saenz, Cynthia Valenzuela Dixon, Nina
Perales, Ivan Espinoza-Madrigal, Gladys Limón and Nicholás Espiritu;
- NILC: Joaquin, Karen C. Tumlin, Nora A. Preciado, Melissa S.
Keaney, Vivek Mittal and Ghazal Tajmiri;
Foundation of Arizona: Dan
Pochoda and Annie Lai;
- APALC: Su, Ronald Lee, Yungsuhn Park, Connie Choi and Carmina
- NDLON: Chris Newman and Lisa Kung;
- NAACP: Laura Blackburne;
Tolles & Olson LLP:
Bradley S. Phillips, Paul J. Watford, Elizabeth J. Neubauer,Joseph J.
Ybarra, Susan T. Boyd and Yuval Miller; and
Mccracken, Guerrero, Miller & Ortega: Daniel R. Ortega, Jr.
complaint can be found at: www.aclu.org/immigrants-rights-racial-justice/friendly-house-et-al-v-whiting-complaint
More information about the Arizona law, including an ACLU video and slide show,
can be found at: www.aclu.org/what-happens-arizona-stops-arizona