In the wake of the SB1070 decision, most of the discussion in the immigrant rights community has revolved around Section (2)b of the law, which the media often refers to as the “show me your papers” provision. Section (2)b, the only section in question that the court let stand, requires Arizona police officers to check the immigration status of anyone they stop, detain, or arrest in their normal course of duty.
Naturally, many supporters of immigrant rights are incensed that the Supreme Court would leave 2(b) in place. But I would argue that the Supreme Court actually made a reasonable decision. Asserting that 2(b) is preempted by federal law is a fairly weak argument. Although it would have greatly strengthened its case against 2(b), the Obama administration explicitly excluded concerns about racial profiling from their lawsuit. It is a wonder that no one in the advocacy world has made much of this exclusion, but – then again – these people have a tendency to act in mysterious ways during an election season.
This, the ACLU, MALDEF, and National Immigration Law Center filed a lawsuit of their own, challenging 2(b) on civil rights grounds. But why couldn’t the Obama administration simply have included this legal challenge in its case? Maybe it was some brilliant legal strategy – wait until the empirical data on racial profiling piles up before building an irrefutable case. Or let advocacy groups like the ACLU to prove their worth by allowing them to deliver the final blow.
But these are unlikely scenarios. The most probable explanation is that a civil rights challenge would have undermined the Obama administration’s entire immigration enforcement strategy, which relies heavily on state and local police to verify people’s immigration status.
Since 2005, the process of capturing deportable immigrants has shifted away from worksite raids and into the dragnet of state and local police forces. Increasingly, the feds have police do exactly what Section 2(b) has police do – verify the immigration status of people they come across during their course of duty and report that information to ICE. In 2005, ICE started a program called 287(g), which allowed police officers in participating jurisdictions to become deputized as ICE agents after undergoing a short training. In 2006, ICE started the Secure Communities program, which requires police to send them fingerprint scans for anyone they arrest in order to verify people’s immigration status.
READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE HERE: The Missing Racial Profiling Argument in the Arizona Case » Counterpunch: Tells the Facts, Names the Names.