The Common Good

See It, Say It: The Supreme Court Should Strike Down SB 1070

“See it, say it.”

United Church of Christ/Jessie Palatucci
Faith leaders speak at the 48-hour prayer vigil leading up to the SB 1070 hearing. United Church of Christ/Jessie Palatucci

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We’re urged, these days, to be vigilant. I’m alert to this when taking the subway in Washington, D.C., where loudspeakers remind riders that if they “see it, say it.” Speak up, we’re told, if we see a threat.

When the government wants me to be vigilant, I expect no less from the government. That’s why, this week, I’m one of many Americans hoping that the Supreme Court will strike down Arizona’s extreme anti-immigration law, SB 1070.

By subjecting individuals to arrest based on racial profiles and criminalizing unlawful presence, SB 1070 sows fear in immigrant communities and places families at risk of separation. This causes needless and endless hardships for migrants, their families, and their churches in Arizona.

In short, SB 1070 is a threat – to communities, to family unity, to human rights and dignity. Showing laudable vigilance, the federal government has mounted a legal challenge to the law. What remains is for the Supreme Court to show similar vigilance when they hear oral arguments in the resulting case, Arizona v. United States, this Wednesday, April 25.

Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS), the organization of which I am president, is one of over 350 individuals and organizations that have signed onto amicus briefs supporting the government’s challenge to SB 1070. LIRS, along with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), joined the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in filing one such brief.

For LIRS, joining this type of “friend-of-the-court” brief is a rare event. But in doing so, we’re in step with Americans from all walks of life, from faith leaders to business leaders to police officials, who have united to oppose this law.

The broad spectrum of opposition to SB 1070 is in some ways unsurprising. More and more people are realizing that extreme state laws of this type are an obstacle to achieving what America really needs, which is humane and comprehensive federal immigration reform.
In fact, it’s time for Congress to act to ensure there’s one national law on immigration, not a confusing patchwork of 50 different ones. We need comprehensive immigration reform that meets the needs of everyone, from churches to businesses to the police, while upholding human dignity.

The Supreme Court can help get things back on the right track. We need the justices to see that SB 1070 threatens families and communities, and say “enough” to extreme anti-immigrant laws.

Linda Hartke is president and CEO of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service. LIRS is nationally recognized for its leadership advocating on behalf of refugees, asylum seekers, unaccompanied children, immigrants in detention, families fractured by migration and other vulnerable populations, and for providing services to migrants through over 60 grassroots legal and social service partners across the United States. 

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