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Arizona’s Approach to Immigration on Trial and Under Fire

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Sheriff Joe Arpaio Trial Begins This Week as Momentum to Discredit Arpaio & Jan Brewer Approach to Immigration Builds

This week, notorious anti-Latino and anti-immigrant Sheriff Joe Arpaio is headed to court as a civil rights lawsuit against Arpaio’s tactics moves forward.  In conjunction with the recent Supreme Court ruling on Arizona’s SB1070 law – in which the “papers please” provision of the law was not struck down, but now faces impending legal challenges, while the rest of the law was deemed unconstitutional – and in-state voices calling for a new approach to fixing immigration, and it’s clear that the recent “Arizona model” of immigration based on racial profiling is being discredited before our eyes.

As the New York Times editorializes today about the impending Arpaio trial, scheduled to begin on Thursday, “This case is only the first of what is likely to be a string of civil rights challenges against immigration actions in Arizona.  A civil lawsuit, brought by the Justice Department, accusing Sheriff Arpaio of systematic and widespread civil rights abuses, is moving through the courts.  Last month, the United States Supreme Court declined to overturn the section of Arizona’s immigration law that requires local officers to check the papers of suspected illegal immigrants.  But it said the provision could be challenged on equal-protection grounds, if there is evidence of racial profiling in the way it is carried out. The trial this week does not deal with police conduct under that law, but it does suggest that racial profiling is a deep-seated problem, certainly in Maricopa County.  Sheriff Arpaio is facing the voters for a sixth term this fall. He has long insisted that he answers to no one but the county’s residents, who keep re-electing him. If voters won’t put an end to his abuses, the courts and the Constitution will have the final word.”

From within Arizona, Jerry Lewis, the state senator who defeated SB1070 champion Russell Pearce in a 2011 recall election, authors an op-ed in the Arizona Republic on the need for a practical, permanent solution on immigration.  Writes Lewis of the recent Supreme Court ruling and implications, “While the ruling certainly did favor, in some form, both sides of the immigration debate, the reality is this: There was no winner, and there will be no victory until all of us, Democrats, independents, Libertarians, and Republicans, come together to craft a permanent solution to our nation’s immigration problems.  Such a solution is within our grasp. Most people agree that our borders must be secure, that we must not allow dangerous criminals into the country, that we should allow immigrants who want to work to do so legally, that immigrants should pay their fair share for the social services they receive, and that we must find a sensible way to address the 14 million immigrants who are in the country without proper documentation.”  Lewis further notes, “What this requires, however, is elected statesmen and stateswomen who are willing to put partisanship and politics aside in favor of pragmatic policy-making that brings Americans of all political persuasions to the table in a cooperative process…Fortunately, I believe that the next Arizona Legislature will include a number of individuals capable of beginning this process — courageous leaders willing to work with members of the other party to effect real change and find real solutions.”

According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, “For too long in Arizona, the inmates have run the asylum on immigration.  Thankfully, the pendulum is swinging away from the Joe Arpaios and Jan Brewers of the world.  However, in order to actually achieve the lasting fix that Lewis identifies and that will further disempower Arpaio and Brewer, Arizona’s former immigration reform champions Senator John McCain and Senator Jon Kyl need to step up to the plate in Washington.  Their silence continues to be deafening in the face of continued evidence from their home state that a sensible federal fix is needed, based on pragmatism, not profiling.”

America’s Voice – Harnessing the power of American voices and American values to win common sense immigration reform.