Last week, the immigrant rights movement had a major victory in Arizona. State Senate President Russell Pearce was the driving force behind Arizona SB 1070, the infamous bill that gave local police the power to act as immigration officials. Pearce lost his senate seat on November 8th in a historic recall election, sending a clear message that anti-immigration measures might not be quite as popular as Senator Pearce believes. And while the ousting of Pearce is a big moral win for the movement, reiterations of his bill are working their way through legislatures all across the country.
In March of 2010, SB 1070 was signed by Governor Jan Brewer. Among other things, the controversial law gave police officers the power to stop and question anyone who they deemed “suspicious looking.” Civil rights and immigrant rights organizations responded to this by launching massive mobilizations and civil disobedience acts against racial profiling.
Eventually the Justice Department struck down some of the pieces of this legislation in 2010, yet similar anti-immigration legislation continues to crop up in other states. In Idaho, after a copycat bill was introduced by Senator Mike Jorgenson, Alliance for a Just Society affiliate Idaho Community Action Network launched a successful campaign to directly confront Jorgenson and to help kill that bill. Jorgenson went on to lose his seat during last year’s Republican primary.
Alabama has passed what many see as the most severe anti-immigration law yet. Among many of the startling pieces, public educators are required to screen the immigration status of children and their parents. Although an Alabama federal judge struck down some of these components, many of the most stringent requirements remain, and there are countless complaints from businesses and organizations throughout the state dealing with the extreme measures of the law. In one complaint, private water companies are shutting down water services to people who can’t prove their citizenship status.
Fortunately, activists there are organizing with support of other organizations from other states, including the Fair Immigration Reform Movement network. And in December, there will be summit in Alabama where hundreds of organizers from throughout the country will meet to strategize about fighting back against inhumane immigration policies.
The Alliance for a Just Society believes all people making their home in the United States should benefit from day-to-day security, living wages, safe workplaces, and the ability to fully participate in family and community life. We will continue to join our partners like Idaho Community Action Network to fight these protections for everyone in the United States, including immigrants.