As we highlighted two
weeks ago, the Arizona legislature and Governor's decisions
to pass a punitive, anti-immigrant bill - SB1070
- have unleashed a torrent of condemnations inside and outside of
Arizona. Voices speaking up against the bill have come not only from
civil rights organizations, but have also included public safety
officials, constitutional legal scholars, and, significantly, Republican
leaders and candidates from other states with
significant immigrant populations.
This week, the Arizona Senate passed the nation's most draconian
immigration law - which criminalizes the undocumented and those
accused of assisting them - that many critics say will drive racial
profiling and further undermine Arizona's devastated economy. The bill
now awaits now awaits Governor Jan Brewer's veto or approval.
When Denver voters rejected a proposal
last week by 70% to force police to automatically impound cars of
unlicensed drivers -- an anti-immigrant measure designed to punish
undocumented immigrants who can't get drivers licenses -- they followed
the trend of communities across the nation, often led by public safety
officials themselves, who are refusing to divert scarce public
resources for anti-immigrant purposes.
leaders can ally with both law enforcement and victims' rights groups by
promoting policies that protect immigrant victims of crime when they contact
the police, and by encouraging community policing efforts in immigrant
as some states and local communities have promoted local law enforcement to
enforce federal immigration laws, other states and communities have instead encouraged
victims and witnesses of crime, particularly those suffering from domestic
violence, to come forward without fear of police inquiry into their immigration
2008, the Virginia
legislature introduced two bills, SB 441 and HB 307, prohibiting law
enforcement officers from inquiring into the immigration status of any
person who reports being a victim or witness of a crime.
Rhode Island's proposed HB 7967 offered similar
protections for immigrant victims and witnesses, but also prohibits local
law enforcement from entering into any agreements to enforce federal
immigration laws. SB 2237 would add a
requirement that officers maintain confidentiality if an immigrant's
status is known, and requires training and cooperation with community
organizations to implement the law.
California and Hawaii both
proposed bills focusing on protecting immigrant victims of domestic
violence. California AJR 42 urges the U.S.
Congress not to change the current policy allowing immigrant victims to
pursue permanent resident status. Hawaii HB 2140 requires the state
Department of Human Services to establish a pilot program to assist
undocumented immigrant victims.
New Jersey's Attorney General
Anne Milgram issued an August 22, 2007
to law enforcement officers, prohibiting officers from inquiring about or investigating the immigration status of any
victim, witness, or person requesting assistance from the police. The
directive also prohibits racial profiling.
The anti-immigrant "movement" has been flailing recently. With donor fraud and embezzlement
fueling the splintering of the Minutemen Civil Defense Corps, and
dysfunction and check-bouncing at their previous partner organization,
the Minutemen Project, anti-immigrant organizations are seeing dissent
and confusion rule their ranks.