As noted in the Village Voice Media collection "Crossing the Line," the U.S. Supreme Court will rule this month on legislation that forces police to scrutinize Latinos, both immigrants and citizens. At the heart of this case is Arizona's controversial Senate Bill 1070.
What SB 1070 does is criminalize the undocumented. The law forces all police officers to ascertain a person's immigration status whenever a cop interacts with a brown person. Lights on a license plate too dim? A call about domestic violence? If an officer harbors any suspicion, he or she must ask for proof of citizenship. And if a cop doesn't do that, any citizen can sue the cop for not taking deportation seriously. To protect against lawsuits, the cautious cop must question all Latinos.
Based on the makeup of the Supreme Court and the viewpoints the court has already expressed, Lacey and others expect the highest court in the land to, "in significant part, validate Arizona's SB 1070."
The repercussions of that decision will likely be substantial and substantially detrimental, despite the fact that, as Lacey points out, "Polls show that SB 1070 and similar laws in other states are supported by voters at rates between 60 to 70 percent nationally." In fact, it's that ignorant and arrogant point of view that makes this all so dangerous. If SB 1070 gets the Supreme Court's seal of approval, economies will feel the brunt, as will the country's race relations. The precedent set in motion will have severe and lasting impacts for years to come.
As Lacey's piece also points out:
Six states already have a version of Arizona's bill and are awaiting the ruling for implementation. In all, 16 states filed amicus briefs urging the Supreme Court to support SB 1070.
Go here for a look at the amicus brief filed by the state of Michigan on behalf of the 16 states. Warning: it's gross.
Perhaps the only good news in all of this, at least locally, is the City of Seattle hasn't been drawn into the bigotry. In all, 23 amicus briefs have been filed with the Supreme Court speaking out against Arizona's SB 1070 - coming from all corners of the country, including Seattle.
The National Immigration Law Center says the amicus brief that the City of Seattle is part of:
Argues that the enjoined provisions of SB 1070 impermissibly usurp scarce local resources that should be devoted to public safety. The brief also argues that SB 1070's immigration verification provisions impose vague and unworkable requirements that effectively compel local law enforcement officials to violate the Constitution, creating liabilities for localities. Last, the brief argues that if the enjoined provisions were allowed to take effect the necessary trust between local law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve would be irreparably harmed.
And here's a look at that amicus brief: