coalition of civil rights groups files legal challenge to arizona racial profiling law

The Asian Pacific American Legal Center and Asian American Justice Center, as members of the Asian American Center for Advancing Justice, and a coalition of other civil rights groups filed a class action lawsuit today in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona challenging Arizona's SB 1070 immigration law.

As you know, the new law requires police to demand "papers" from people they stop who they suspect are not authorized to be in the U.S. The extreme law, the coalition charged, invites the racial profiling of people of color, violates the First Amendment and interferes with federal law. From APALC's press release:
Besides APALC and AAJC, the coalition filing the lawsuit includes the ACLU, MALDEF, National Immigration Law Center (NILC), the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), ACLU of Arizona, and National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON).

"Arizona's law is quintessentially un-American: we are not a 'show me your papers' country, nor one that believes in subjecting people to harassment, investigation and arrest simply because others may perceive them as foreign," said Omar Jadwat, a staff attorney with the ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project. "This law violates the Constitution and interferes with federal law, and we are confident that we will prevent it from ever taking effect."

The lawsuit charges that the Arizona law unlawfully interferes with federal power and authority over immigration matters in violation of the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution; invites racial profiling against people of color by law enforcement in violation of the equal protection guarantee and prohibition on unreasonable seizures under the 14th and Fourth Amendments; and infringes on the free speech rights of day laborers and others in Arizona.

"This discriminatory law pushes Arizona into a spiral of fear, increased crime and costly litigation," said Victor Viramontes, MALDEF Senior National Counsel. "We expect that this misguided law will be enjoined before it takes effect."

One of the individuals the coalition is representing in the case, Jim Shee, is a U.S.-born 70-year-old American citizen of Spanish and Chinese descent. Shee asserts that he will be vulnerable to racial profiling under the law, and that, although the law has not yet gone into effect, he has already been stopped twice by local law enforcement officers in Arizona and asked to produce his "papers."
Wait, why are APALC and the Asian American Justice Center joining in this lawsuit? Because this law is messed up. The end. Not only are they defending the rights of Asian Americans in Arizona, they're standing in solidarity with Latino, immigrants rights, civil liberties and other organizations fighting this oppressive law.

Read the full press release at the APALC website here. You can also read the full complaint, Friendly House et al. v. Whiting, here.

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