Civil Rights Groups Ask Court To Block Remaining Day Labor Provisions Of Arizona's Racial Profiling Law

January 7, 2011

Coalition Files To Prevent SB 1070 From Unconstitutionally Curtailing Day Laborers' First Amendment Rights

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CONTACT:  (212) 549-2666; media@aclu.org

PHOENIX – The American Civil Liberties Union and a coalition of civil rights organizations today asked a federal court to prohibit Arizona from enforcing two key sections of its racial profiling law (SB 1070) targeting day labor, pending a final court ruling on the these provisions' constitutionality. The law creates new criminal offenses, ostensibly relating to traffic safety, that apply only to individuals engaging in or receiving employment solicitation speech. According to the coalition, these provisions cause irreparable harm to day laborers and those who seek to employ them by curtailing their First Amendment rights.

The groups filed a lawsuit challenging Arizona's racial profiling law in May. The coalition includes the ACLU, MALDEF, the National Immigration Law Center (NILC), the Asian Pacific American Legal Center (APALC) (a member of the Asian American Center for Advancing Justice), ACLU of Arizona, National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON) and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). The law firms of Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP, Altshuler Berzon LLP, and Roush, McCracken, Guerrero, Miller & Orgtega are acting as co-counsel in the case.

The following statements can be attributed to members of the coalition, as listed below.

Linton Joaquin, general counsel for the National Immigration Law Center: "Arizona's attempt to prohibit peaceful efforts to seek day labor employment throughout the state is not only illegal, but also immoral during an economic downturn. Because of these unconstitutional restrictions on free speech, the families and communities that rely on day laborers' economic contributions suffer enormous and unnecessary hardship."

Omar Jadwat, ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project: "These provisions of Arizona's racial profiling law improperly single out and punish employment solicitation speech in violation of the First Amendment. The state law's violation of fundamental constitutional principles in order to express hostility to day laborers and immigrants is both shortsighted and doomed to legal failure."

Victor Viramontes, MALDEF National Senior Counsel: "Day Laborers have a right to peacefully seek work in order to feed their families and themselves. The First Amendment guarantees them the right to express their desire for work without fear of being harassed or arrested." 

Daniel Pochoda, ACLU of Arizona legal director: "This provision is an unconstitutional attempt to further the agendas of anti-immigrant legislators in Arizona. Singling out work solicitation speech from all other types of speech belies the stated concern with traffic problems and demonstrates an intent to target Latino day laborers."

Julie Su, litigation director for the Asian Pacific American Legal Center: "All workers have a First Amendment right to seek work, particularly in public areas. The unconstitutional provisions of SB 1070 have severely violated workers' free speech rights and restricted their ability to earn a living."

Chris Newman, Legal Director and General Counsel for the National Day Laborer Organizing Network: "Free speech protections guaranteed by the First Amendment are vital to our democracy, and they belong as much to day laborers as they do to authors, corporations, and politicians. Other federal judges that have examined similar anti-day labor laws have found them to be unconstitutional, and we are confident these sections of SB 1070 will be enjoined and ultimately struck down as well."

Organizations and attorneys on the case, Friendly House et al. v. Whiting et al., include:

ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project: Jadwat, Lucas Guttentag, Cecillia Wang and Tanaz Moghadam
MALDEF: Thomas A. Saenz, Nina Perales, Cynthia Valenzuela Dixon, Viramontes, Gladys Limón, Nicholás Espiritu and Ivan Espinoza-Madrigal
NILC: Joaquin, Karen Tumlin, Nora A. Preciado, Melissa S. Keaney and Vivek Mittal
ACLU of Arizona: Pochoda and Annie Lai
APALC: Su, Yungsuhn Park, Connie Choi and Carmina Ocampo
NDLON: Newman and Lisa Kung
NAACP: Laura Blackburne
Munger Tolles & Olson LLP: Bradley S. Phillips, Paul J. Watford, Joseph J. Ybarra, Susan T. Boyd, Yuval Miller, Elisabeth J. Neubauer, and Benjamin Maro
Altshuler Berzon LLP: Stephen P. Berzon and Jonathan Weissglass
Roush, McCracken, Guerrero, Miller & Ortega: Daniel R. Ortega, Jr.

The brief in support of the preliminary injunction is available online at: www.aclu.org/immigrants-rights-racial-justice/friendly-house-et-al-v-whiting-et-al-plaintiffs-motion-preliminar-0

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