LGBT leaders said they were encouraged by parts of today’s Supreme Court decision striking much of the Arizona immigration law but leaving the “papers please” provision intact. Cases working their way through the courts challenge the remaining part of the law.
Rea Carey, executive director of National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, called the law “draconian,” making more people vulnerable to abuse. She called it an “infringement of civil rights, and harassment and violence against those seen as different.”
“The bottom line is that Arizona’s anti-immigrant law is a license to discriminate,” Carey said in a statement. “Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people know all too well how easily those who are perceived to ‘look different’ or ‘act different’ can be singled out for persecution.
She said the ruling “spotlights the critical need for comprehensive immigration reform.”
Portions of the Arizona law that were struck down include making it a crime for an immigrant not to carry proof of status and making it a crime for undocumented immigrants to work or apply for work. Also unconstitutional is allowing police to arrest anyone they believe doesn’t have legal status, the court said.
Left in place is the “papers please” provision, which requires police to verify the immigration status of people stopped or arrested.
Ken Upton, senior staff attorney in Lambda Legal’s Dallas office, said that his organization filed a brief in conjunction with the lawsuit, although he was not involved in preparing the brief.
“But anything giving the government a chance to do racial profiling is problematic,” he said.
Additional lawsuits related to the surviving part of the law are still working their way through the courts, Upton said.
Lambda Legal released a statement signed by 30 other organizations.
“LGBT immigrants and LGBT people of color remain particularly vulnerable because this provision in SB 1070 requires police to stop and question people based on their appearance,” the release said.
According to the statement, the law also “exacerbate[s] the fear and distrust that dissuade[s] many LGBT immigrants and LGBT people of color from seeking protection from — or offering to assist — law-enforcement officials.”
Campaigning in Arizona, Mitt Romney had little to say about the decision other than states have a right to secure their borders, according to Associated Press.
President Barack Obama, whose administration brought the legal challenge against the Arizona law, said: “I agree with the court that individuals cannot be detained solely to verify their immigration status. No American should ever live under a cloud of suspicion just because of what they look like.”
The decision comes just two weeks after Obama directed Homeland Security to redirect immigration enforcement away from those undocumented residents who entered the country as a child.
A decision that affects many people with HIV is expected sometime this week when the court rules on key provisions of the Affordable Care Act.
The full statement made by a coalition of LGBT and HIV organizations follows the jump:
LGBT, HIV Advocates Respond to Mixed Ruling on Arizona’s Anti-Immigrant Law
(New York, June 25, 2012) – In a mixed ruling, the Supreme Court today struck down key parts of SB 1070, Arizona’s draconian anti-immigrant law. The nation’s leading organizations advocating on behalf of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) population and people living with HIV/AIDS responded to the ruling and expressed support for comprehensive immigration reform that includes LGBT people and their families.
The “show-me-your-papers” provision in SB 1070 is clearly discriminatory but unfortunately was not struck down. LGBT immigrants and LGBT people of color remain particularly vulnerable because this provision in SB 1070 requires police to stop and question people based on their appearance. The LGBT community knows all too well how easily people who are perceived to “look different” or “act different” can be singled out for harassment and persecution. The law particularly threatens LGBT people of color and LGBT immigrants, many of whom already experience heightened hostility, harassment, and even violence based on their appearance, behavior, dress, and other characteristics. This wrongful treatment often occurs at the hands of local officials who lack a basic understanding of sexual orientation and gender identity and expression diversity.
SB 1070, and the copycat laws it has spawned in other states, exacerbate the fear and distrust that dissuade many LGBT immigrants and LGBT people of color from seeking protection from – or offering to assist – law-enforcement officials. While leaving the “show me your papers” provision in effect is a setback for the cause of civil rights in America, the court left the door open for advocates to challenge this bad part of the law by showing that it discriminates and harms people. Along with other advocates devoted to immigrant rights and racial justice, we will fight to protect basic civil rights and we won’t stop until we win respect, dignity and equal treatment under the law for everyone.
As the Supreme Court recognized in its majority decision today: “Immigration policy shapes the destiny of the Nation,” and the “history of the United States is in part made of the stories, talents, and lasting contributions of those who crossed oceans and deserts to come here.” The Court has made clear that states “may not pursue policies that undermine federal law.” For example, Arizona cannot create its own system for immigration registration, impose criminal penalties on immigrants who are seeking work, or make warrantless arrests of immigrants based on possibility of removability. This recognition is an important victory for people and communities across the United States. Instead of targeting and criminalizing immigrants and other marginalized groups, communities should be enacting and implementing forward-looking, progressive measures that integrate, protect and ensure equality for all people, including immigrants.
Today’s mixed ruling strikes down key parts of a bad law. But the fact remains that our nation’s immigration system is broken, and we need comprehensive immigration reform that is fair to everyone, and is inclusive of LGBT immigrants and their families. We will work with our allies in the immigrant rights community to make this reform a reality, and call on Congress to move swiftly to correct the flaws riddling the present immigration system and provide a path to legalization for the nation’s undocumented immigrants.
List of Organizations:
LGBT Progress at the Center for American Progress
AFL-CIO – Pride at Work
Center Link: The Community of LGBT Centers
Consortium of Higher Education Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Resource Professionals
Family Equality Council
Freedom to Marry
Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD)
Gay & Lesbian Medical Association (GLMA)
Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN)
HIV Law Project
Human Rights Campaign
International Federation of Black Prides, Inc.
Latino Commission on AIDS
PFLAG National (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays)
Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE)
The National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors (NASTAD)
National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC)
National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR)
National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE)
National Coalition for LGBT Health
National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund
National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance
Out & Equal Workplace Advocates
Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund (TLDEF)