Virginia Attorney General Submits Legal Brief Supporting Arizona's Anti-Immigrant Law

Affiliate: ACLU of Virginia
July 16, 2010 12:00 am

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ACLU of Virginia vows to keep Virginia from passing a similar law.


Richmond, VA – Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has submitted a friend-of-the-court brief in U.S. District Court in Arizona supporting that state’s controversial new law requiring police to check the immigration status of any person they detain and have “reasonable suspicion” to believe is in the country illegally.

In May, the American Civil Liberties Union and a coalition of other leading civil rights organizations filed a lawsuit challenging the law on grounds that it invites the racial profiling of people of color, violates the First Amendment, and interferes with federal law. Last week, the Obama administration filed a separate lawsuit claiming that the law unconstitutionally usurps federal authority.

Joining Cuccinelli on the brief are attorneys general from Michigan, Alabama, Florida, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Texas.

“While not completely surprised, we are disappointed that Attorney General Cuccinelli is supporting Arizona’s anti-immigrant law,” said ACLU of Virginia Executive Director Kent Willis. “Laws that encourage discrimination based on race or nationality have no place in a nation that values fairness and equality.”

“In recent years, Virginia’s lawmakers have rejected anti-immigrant legislation that would have increased racial profiling,” added Willis. “But the attention generated by the new Arizona law and now the Attorney General’s support for it are cause for concern. Prior to the 2011 General Assembly, we’ll be mobilizing our members and allies to make sure that Arizona’s law does not come to Virginia.”

The passage of the Arizona law recently led Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart to launch his statewide “Rule of Law” campaign to bring a similar law to Virginia. Stewart wants state laws that increase police powers to conduct background checks and make arrests without warrants. He also wants to prohibit day laborers from soliciting for work.

Stewart was an instigator of a nationally-watched proposal in Prince William County in 2007 to give police the authority to conduct immigration status checks on anyone they had detained whom they suspected of being unlawfully present. Stewart’s proposal, which was modified after the ACLU of Virginia and other rights groups opposed it, would have required proof of citizenship in order to use public services, such as parks and libraries.

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