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Civil Rights Groups Seek Class Action Against Arizona's Immigration Law

Twenty One civil rights groups from Unions, Churches, Mexican, to Muslim groups have filed a class action in Arizona federal court alleging Arizona's immigration Senate Bill 1070 will "cause widespread racial profiling and will subject many persons of color, including countless U.S. citizens and non citizens who have federal permission to remain in the United States, to unlawful interrogations, searches, seizures, and arrests." Arizona's county attorneys and law enforcement have been named as the defendants.

The plaintiffs are claiming that these new laws which are to be enacted July 28 will not only encourage racial profiling, but will deter people from expressing their individual culture and race, i.e. speaking their native language.

If enacted, the new immigration law will mandate that police offers detain a person if they "reasonably suspect" that the person is "unlawfully present" in the United States. In addition, the new law requires that local law enforcement search cars without a warrant if they suspect the occupants of the vehicle lack immigration papers. The plaintiffs allege that the law violates the fundamental right to travel to and from Arizona for residents of other states because of the fear of unjustifiable detention or arrest. They also argue that the law constitutes a mandate that goes against the federal immigration policy.

Specifically, the various groups argue that SB1070 violates the Supremacy Clause, which forbids any "regulation of immigration." The plaintiffs cite several Supreme Court decisions detailing that only the federal government has a right to constitute any type of immigration regulations. Furthermore, the plaintiffs allege that out of fear of questioning or detention, their clients will avoid contact with law enforcement when it comes to reporting crimes and other matters. The plaintiffs also state that the bill puts law enforcement at risk of being sued by private parties who do not believe that the Arizona city and county officials have enforced the law strictly enough.

Plaintiffs seek class certification for all people who will be affected by the new law as a result of their race or national origin. The civil rights groups seek to prevent defendants from implementing a law they allege is "constitutionally suspect," in order to prevent harm to Plaintiffs and the public.


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