Phoenix, AZ, April 23, 2010 ... The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today expressed profound disappointment with Governor Jan Brewer's decision to sign what is now the harshest state immigration law in the country.
Senate Bill 1070, advanced by longtime anti-immigration ideologue state Senator Russell Pearce, expands the definition of trespassing to include an undocumented immigrant's mere presence in the state. It requires local law enforcement officers who have "reasonable suspicion" about someone's immigration status to demand to see documentation and makes it a misdemeanor to fail to carry paperwork that proves legal status.
"This bill seduces the people of Arizona with the false promise of improving safety and security in our state, but fails to do either," said Bill Straus, Arizona Regional Director. "In actuality, this bill drives a wedge between local law enforcement and the communities they are sworn to serve and protect. Members of our state's significant Latino and immigrant populations – citizens and non-citizens alike – will hesitate to come forward to report crimes or serve as witnesses. Instead, they will reside in the shadows and law enforcement will lose some of its best partners in the fight to keep our communities safe."
In its letter to Governor Brewer urging her to veto this misguided legislation, ADL underscored how SB 1070 will open the floodgates for arrests based solely on factors like color of skin or accent. "This bill will open a Pandora's box for profiling," explained Straus. Straus also highlighted how requiring law enforcement to focus on individuals without documentation serves to distract officers from their vital work of tracking and arresting violent criminals.
Arizona Regional Board Chair Miriam Weisman added, "As a nation of immigrants, we must endeavor to embrace the diverse groups that make ours the most enviable and pluralistic democracy in the world. By engendering fear, encouraging discrimination and fanning the flames of hatred, SB 1070 serves to divide rather than unite us.Arizonacan do better."
ADL collaborates with other national civil rights groups to lobby for the enactment of comprehensive immigration reform.