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Sixty-Eight House Democrats Sign Amicus Brief on SB 1070, Argue Immigration Is Federal Priority

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Sixty-eight Democratic House Congressmen joined forces this week in a charge against Arizona’s arch-anti-immigrant law SB 1070, releasing an amicus curiae brief to the Supreme Court which supports the Administration’s challenge to the law and argues that immigration regulation is a federal rather than a state issue.  Their leadership on the legislation was complemented by eleven state attorney generals who filed a separate yet similar brief on Monday.

“As long as we do not understand that this is a national policy that we are dealing with,” Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), who organized the group, said in a press conference, “laws like 1070 will continue to sprout up—not only as wedge issues but as very feeble attempts on the part of states to usurp what is a federal rule, and a constitutionally protected federal rule.”

Watch video from the event here:

It was April 2010 that Gov. Jan Brewer of Arizona signed what was then America’s most anti-immigrant bill into law.  It forced residents to carry their papers with them at all times, gave police broad powers to detain anyone suspected of being undocumented, encouraged racial profiling, and led to harassment and discrimination against Hispanics.

Much of the law was blocked by a district court, a ruling upheld a year later by the Ninth Circuit.  Now SB 1070 is going all the way to the Supreme Court, and federal legislators want to make sure the Court understands that they oppose it and support a federal solution instead.  In their amicus brief and in their press conference this week, they sent clear signals that they believe SB 1070–and the lookalike anti-immigrant laws that have followed it–is destructive, punitive, and discriminatory.

As the “friend of the court” brief reads:

Amici recognize the careful balance that federal immigration legislation strikes between enforcement priorities and humanitarian interests, and are concerned that Arizona S.B. 1070 disrupts that deliberately constructed congressional balance. In the view of amici, the issue before the Court is more than merely a legal  issue; it is important from a human rights perspective and could have wide-sweeping effects on all minorities living in Arizona and, potentially, throughout the Nation.

Arizona should not be allowed to usurp Congress’s authority through S.B. 1070.  In drafting and passing S.B. 1070, Arizona entirely ignores the fact that Congress has already acted in many of the areas that S.B. 1070 is designed to govern. In so doing, Arizona impermissibly seeks to substitute its judgment and its priorities for those of Congress.

The Supreme Court will hear arguments on SB 1070 beginning April 25, right after the hearings on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act have concluded.

Read the amicus brief here.

View report from National Immigration Law Center, “The Upcoming Supreme Court Hearing on SB 1070: What’s at Play.”

The complete list of House Democrats who signed: