NALEO, the leadership organization of the nation’s more than 6,000 Latino elected and appointed officials, today released the following statement expressing its support and concern with the Supreme Court’s mixed decision in Arizona v. United States.
“NALEO applauds the Court’s action to prevent the state from unconstitutionally criminalizing being undocumented, seeking or engaging in work, or being deportable. NALEO is extremely concerned, however, that Arizona’s ‘show-me-your-papers’ policy was not yet determined to be unconstitutional because it is unclear how it will be implemented.
“Arizona’s SB 1070, enacted in April 2010, took unprecedented steps to involve local and state officials in intrusive investigations of people suspected to be immigrants. In violation of our national commitment to non-discrimination and fairness, SB 1070 requires Arizona police to determine the status of anyone who they believe look undocumented, and to arrest people without a warrant who are thought to be deportable – provisions that would result in harassment and intimidation of Latino United States citizens and authorized immigrants. SB 1070 also puts new immigration-related crimes on the state books for conduct regulated by federal law.
“The Supreme Court’s decision is an important affirmation of the federal government’s singular role in determining national immigration policy. The Court made it clear that Arizona overstepped the boundaries of its authority. We remain concerned, however, that the Court’s decision to allow state and local police unchecked authority to investigate immigration status already has, and will continue to lead to the extended detention of individuals without the authorization of federal immigration authorities.
“This strong decision goes a long way towards preventing abusive state-led immigration enforcement. Though the Court did not invalidate the “show-me-your-papers” provision, Latino and other Arizonans should not fear implementation of the law, because the Court has strictly limited how it may be applied. Additional legal challenges to SB 1070 also remain to be resolved by Arizona courts. The Supreme Court was not asked to determine whether SB 1070 violates constitutional prohibitions of discrimination based on race and ethnicity, and of unjustified searches and arrests. Following this decision, legal challenges to this and similar laws in Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, South Carolina, and Utah will continue to move forward.
“The future strength and wealth of our nation depend upon our ability to successfully integrate new Americans into our social and economic systems, and to empower all Americans to be active participants in civic affairs. Laws like SB 1070 set us back by destroying the trust between everyday people and public officials. The Supreme Court wisely recognized today that states do not have constitutional authority to create policies that divide our communities solely on the basis of immigration status.
“It has never been more important that our national policies be guided by American values of equality, fairness, and opportunity. To honor these values, state and local leaders must turn away from the criminal enforcement measures that the Supreme Court has invalidated, and focus instead on promoting constructive policies that ensure that productive immigrants can become part of the fabric of our communities, and can and do contribute to our shared prosperity.”
The National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials is the leadership organization of the nation’s more than 6,000 Latino elected and appointed officials.