Arizona needs a movement to repeal SB 1070

TUCSON, Ariz. – Was Monday’s Supreme Court decision on Arizona’s racist, anti-immigrant SB 1070 a victory for working people?

The decision has engendered lots of commentary in the media and among elected officials.

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer claimed victory, alleging that the court found the core part of SB 1070 – “show me your papers” – is constitutional. The court did not say that.

Others, including some progressives, claim it was a victory for the Obama administration and human rights, because three parts were struck down and the Supremes implied that the rest of the law will probably not stand muster when it finally reaches the courts.

But what is the reality on the ground here in Arizona? How will regular working people be impacted? Will this racist law now be enforced?

Under the law, all Latino, Native American and other minority people are suspect and can be arrested and harassed if they aren’t carrying papers. Let’s be clear. SB 1070 is all about racial profiling.
White folks will not be asked to prove they’re not Canadians, but Hopi, Pima, Apache, and Mexican American people will have to prove they’re not Mexican. 

SB 1070 passed the Arizona legislature in 2010 on a party-line vote. Panic ensued followed by massive protests. More than 150,000 people marched on the state Capitol braving Phoenix’s three-digit summer temperatures. Soon after, a federal judge  halted implementation of most of the law until it worked it’s way up through the courts. So what will happen now?

Just this week, Raul Castro, a 95-year-old former Arizona governor and once the U.S. Ambassador to Argentina, was stopped, harassed and made to sit out in the 105 degree heat for an entire hour while he was being “checked” by Border Patrol. He was just a passenger in a car, but he is brown. 

If the “highly trained”  expert Border Patrol can’t tell a governor of Arizona is not an undocumented immigrant, what can we expect from local cops or from Maricopa County’s racist Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s deputies who are now required to hold anybody they suspect might be an undocumented immigrant?    

Lawyers are preparing challenges to the remaining sections, while some immigrants and their supporters are vowing to resist this law, but we must also target the source – the state legislature and Governor Brewer. 

Arizona needs a broad-based movement to repeal SB 1070. A movement to repeal can bring together Mexican Americans, immigrants, labor and other progressive forces. Repealing SB 1070 means challenging the tea-party-dominated legislature. It’s a movement that can bring new forces into the 2012 election battles. It’s a movement that can change the direction of Arizona politics. After all, a legislature, and people’s movement that repeals SB 1070 could also repeal Arizona’s anti-union “right-to-work” laws, it can be a movement to tax the rich and fund our starving schools.  

A coalition to resist and repeal SB 1070 has already been formed in Tucson. It’s a great first step that must spread across our communities.

Photo: SEIU International // CC 2.0


Joe Bernick
Joe Bernick

Joe Bernick is the Director of Salt of the Earth Labor College, Tucson, Arizona.