Arizona’s SB 1070 Provides Evidence of a Larger Threat to Workers
Monday’s Supreme Court decision on Arizona’s SB 1070 was better than most expected, setting a strong precedent that immigration is in the hands of the federal government and validating prosecutorial discretion policies. The court struck down three of the four provisions it heard, including the provision that would have criminalized the act of working for the first time in our history. Despite the good news, the continued peril of SB 1070 is real and goes beyond the “papers please” racial profiling provision left behind.
SB 1070 has been divisive and expensive at a time we need to be working together to fix our economy. SB 1070 has spawned copy cats in other state, drawing yet more boycotts, protests and lawsuits and costing business owners, taxpayers and communities. The divisive language has moved us further away from discussing real solutions for our broken immigration system. It has pitted worker against worker, instead of fostering understanding through a shared identity.
SB 1070 was passed two years ago in an environment defined by a dismal economic situation and deep frustration with the countries immigration system. The SB 1070 scapegoated immigrant workers as a place to focus those frustrations, while creating real disastrous consequences for workers and their families. It has branded immigrants as criminials, and by extention classes of workers as criminals. Because most of the people this law was targeted at didn't come here just for the experience, they came here to work.
Even if the “papers please” provision is subsequently brought down, as was eluded to in Monday’s decision, it won’t be before the burden of proving the unjust nature of the law is put on the backs of workers. Workers will have to be the necessary victims of racial profiling, in order to prove to the courts what communities already know. And more of their tax dollars will be spent on continued court battles instead of the things we actually need to heal this country, like job creation or education .
What we need is a common sense approach to policy solution, one that will provide a reasonable immigration process for aspiring citizens, workplace protections for all workers, an educational system that keeps us competitive, and allows law enforcement to focus on community safety rather than regressive immigration laws.