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: