Today a district court judge in Arizona granted an order to stop the enforcement of a discriminatory anti-solicitation ordinance in the town of Cave Creek, Arizona because it violated the constitutional right of free speech. The Immigrants’ Rights Project of the ACLU, with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and the ACLU of Arizona, filed Lopez v. Town of Cave Creek, to challenge Cave Creek’s ordinance which makes it illegal “to stand on or adjacent to a street or highway and solicit, or attempt to solicit, employment, business or contributions from the occupant of any vehicle.” By issuing the order, the Judge is stating that the plaintiffs will suffer harm if the ordinance continues to be enforced and that the challenge has a good chance of succeeding in a final ruling against the town.
The defendants in the case are all day laborers who used to solicit work in Cave Creek before the ordinance went into effect in October 2007, after which point they were afraid to seek work there because they would face a $250 fine.
This is a victory for freedom of speech, but it is also yet another message from the courts that local governments will not be allowed to target immigrants in this way. “Now the sheriffs can’t use the ordinance as an excuse to harass people because of the color of their skin,” said Hector Lopez, one of the plaintiffs. “Standing on the side of the road is how I let people know that I’m available for work…. Day laborers are hardworking people and provide a valuable service to this community that we are a part of; our kids go to school here and we work, spend money and go to church here.”