Some of the Plaintiffs Challenging SB 1070

Document Date: May 17, 2010
Affiliate: ACLU of Arizona

The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the most hotly disputed part of Arizona’s anti-immigrant law, S.B. 1070, which requires police to determine the immigration status of someone arrested or detained when there is “reasonable suspicion” they are not in the U.S. legally. The ACLU, along with a coalition of civil rights organizations, will continue to challenge the Arizona law on other constitutional grounds.

Jim Shee is an elderly resident of Litchfield Park, Arizona. He is a U.S. citizen of Spanish and Chinese descent and has lived in Arizona his entire life. This past April, Shee was stopped twice by local police in Arizona and asked to produce identification documents. The first incident occurred in early April 2010, when Shee was on the way to his birthday party and was stopped and questioned by a City of Phoenix police officer who demanded to see his "papers." Shee was not given a citation. The second incident occurred a few days later, when Shee was stopped by a highway patrol officer with the Arizona Department of Public Safety in Yuma, Arizona. The officer made a U-turn, activated his emergency lights, stopped Shee and asked to see his "papers." If SB 1070 goes into effect, Shee fears that he will be at even greater risk of being stopped and questioned by Arizona law enforcement officials based on his appearance. He fears that he will be detained because he will be unable to prove to an officer that he is a U.S. citizen. Shee does not wish to carry his passport with him at all times because he is afraid of losing it.

Jesús Cuauhtémoc Villa is an anthropology student at Arizona State University in Tempe, AZ. Villa, a Latino U.S. citizen, is a resident of New Mexico where his parents and extended family still live. He travels back and forth between Arizona and New Mexico about twice a year. Because Villa does not regularly carry his passport, social security card, or birth certificate with him out of fear that he could lose these documents, he worries that state and local law enforcement will stop him based on his ethnicity and detain him because his New Mexico driver's license is not adequate to prove his citizenship.

Jose Angel Vargas is a lawful permanent resident of the United States living in Phoenix. Vargas, who is Latino and speaks very little English, is a member of the day laborer organization Tonatierra's Centro Macehualli. He has lawfully and peacefully solicited work there and on public street corners. Mr. Vargas would like to continue soliciting work this way, but is very worried that he will be detained by the police under SB 1070 due to his Latino appearance, the fact that he cannot speak with a police officer in English and because he solicits work alongside others who do not have authorization to work in the United States. He was already arrested for trespassing once before in Arizona, in March 2009, while soliciting work on a corner near 25th Street and Bell Road in North Phoenix. While the charges were ultimately dropped, Mr. Vargas is still fearful of encounters with the police.

Friendly House is a non-profit organization that provides youth and adult education, workforce development, and a broad range of other social services to Latinos and members of other racial minority groups and low-income people in Phoenix. It also provides immigration assistance, including assisting people who are seeking asylum and noncitizen victims and crime witnesses who are eligible for visas. Friendly House is challenging SB 1070 because is concerned that it will have to divert scarce resources from its programs in order to educate and assist individuals affected by the law. Its staff will have a harder time encouraging clients to seek its services that involve interaction with government agencies and police. It also worries that potential clients will be too afraid to seek immigration relief because they will be profiled by local law enforcement.

Services Employees International Union ("SEIU") is one of the largest labor organizations in the world, representing 2.2 million men and women who work primarily in the public sector in the janitorial, health services, long-term care and security industries. In Arizona, SEIU has three affiliates: SEIU/Workers United Western Regional Joint Board; National Association of Government Employees; and Plaintiff SEIU Local 5 ("SEIU Arizona"). Together, these three affiliates have approximately 2,300 members in every county in the state, about 40 percent of whom are Latino and some of whom are members of other racial minority groups. Some of SEIU's Latino members or their family members have already been subjected to harassing stops by local law enforcement where they are asked to produce proof of immigration status. SEIU is concerned that its minority members will only be more likely to be stopped, detained, arrested, and questioned by state and local police after SB 1070 goes into effect. This will hamper the union's ability to turn members out for rallies, press conferences, and meetings, hurting its ability to protect its existing members and to organize new members.

United Food and Commercial Workers International ("UFCW") is a union representing more than 1.3 workers, primarily in the retail, meatpacking, food processing and poultry industries. In Arizona, it represents than 21,000 workers that come from a range of races and ethnicities, with varying degrees of English proficiency, including substantial numbers of Latinos. UFCW is challenging SB 1070 because it is concerned that its members will be subjected to unlawful stops, detentions, arrests, and questioning by state and local law enforcement officers, which will deter members from attending and participating in UFCW activities and hurt UFCW's ability to effectively advocate on behalf of the employees it represents.

Southside Presbyterian Church in Tucson has a diverse congregation that includes Latinos, Native Americans, Caucasians and African Americans. It operates a homeless program, a Samaritan program where parishioners provide assistance for people who are in distress in the desert and an on-premises day laborer center that includes workers without documentation. The day laborers who participate in this program help run the center and solicit temporary employment by gathering at a public sidewalk outside the church and signaling their availability for work to potential employers. Southside's religious leaders, staff and volunteers frequently transport parishioners to religious activities and to medical facilities and fear they may be prosecuted by provisions of SB 1070 that prohibit transporting and harboring people who are here illegally if the parishioner happens to be undocumented.

Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (AZHCC) is an association more than 350 Latino-owned businesses located throughout Arizona that seek to support, promote, and foster business, cultural, and educational relationships between chamber members and the general public. In addition to serving as a public advocate for its members, AZHCC offers seminars, workshops, marketing, and promotions, as well as networking and sponsorship opportunities for its corporate and community partners. AZHCC is concerned that because of their appearance, traditional cultural practices, and limited English proficiency, some members of AZHCC and/or their employees will be subject to investigation or unwarranted arrest under SB 1070. AZHCC members, like all small business owners in Arizona and nationwide, rely on local and state law enforcement to keep their companies safe and some AZHCC members would be deterred from approaching law enforcement to report criminal activity committed against them or others out of fear that the provisions of SB 1070 would subject AZHCC members to unwarranted questioning, detention or arrest. It is also concerned that its member businesses will lose income because those targeted by the law will stop patronizing public establishments out of fear that they will be targeted and harassed by local law enforcement.

The Asian Chamber of Commerce of Arizona ("ACC") brings together a network of Asian-owned businesses throughout the state that seek to support, promote and foster business, cultural and educational relationships between chamber members and the general public. ACC has over ninety organizational members. Many of the employees of ACC members are of Asian descent and include U.S. citizens and non-citizens, some of whom have limited English skills or speak with an accent. ACC members often rely on law enforcement to keep their businesses safe and would be deterred from approaching law enforcement to report criminal activity committed against them or others out of fear that SB 1070 would subject ACC members to detention, questioning, or arrest. Additionally, ACC fears that its member businesses will suffer because many rely heavily on a minority consumer base who will become reluctant to patronize businesses for fear that they could be harassed by local law enforcement.

Valle del Sol, Inc. is one of the largest Latino behavioral health and social service organizations in Maricopa County, offering a wide array of programs and services, including counseling, substance abuse treatment, prevention services, case management, adult education, advocacy, leadership development, and services for seniors. SB 1070 will deter Valle del Sol's clients, who include both citizens and non-citizens, from seeking its services because they fear being stopped, detained, arrested, or questioned under the new law. Because the agency's name is in Spanish, staff members are concerned that on this basis alone, Valle del Sol will be targeted under the law.

Muslim American Society ("MAS") is a charitable, religious, social, cultural, and educational organization that seeks to empower the American Muslim community through civic education, participation, community outreach, and coalition building. It has an Arizona chapter that includes more than 30 members. Some of the Arizona chapter members are immigrants who will be subjected to profiling based on their foreign appearance and clothing, such as headscarves. Some members have already indicated that they will be afraid to attend town hall meetings and its immigration clinic after SB 1070.

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