(CN) – Civil rights groups asked a federal judge to block Arizona from enforcing the “papers please” provision of its immigration law, saying evidence shows the requirement was steeped in legislative bias and will be unconstitutionally enforced.
In their motion for an injunction, filed on behalf of plaintiffs in a 2010 class action, the groups say the provision “will be implemented in precisely in the manner the Supreme Court deemed unconstitutional.”
The high court last month struck down three provisions of the law, but upheld the so-called “papers please” provision, which requires police officers to check the immigration status of anyone they stop or arrest “if reasonable suspicion exists that the person is an alien and is unlawfully present in the United States.”
The justices said it was too soon to decide if the provision, known as section 2(B), was unconstitutional, but they didn’t rule out future challenges.
“Detaining individuals solely to verify their immigration status would raise constitutional concerns,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote.
The civil rights groups cite statements by several law enforcement officials who allegedly say they intend to do just that: detain people to verify immigration status. Quoted officials include Tucson Police Chief Roberto Villasenor, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Santa Cruz County Sheriff Antonio Estrada, who allegedly explained that 2(B) “may result in detention of people while citizenship is clarified.”
This is exactly the type of implementation that crosses the line drawn by the Supreme Court, the groups claim. They say an order barring enforcement is necessary, because they are likely to win their claims that the provision is trumped by federal law and violates the Constitution.
The groups also offer evidence that legislators who supported the law “suffused the entire legislation with anti-Latino and anti-Mexican bias,” according to the filing in Arizona Federal Court.
“Key legislators relied on invented ‘facts’ about the costs and dangers of ‘illegal immigration,’ conflated Latinos generally or certain U.S. citizen children with ‘illegal aliens,’ and used thinly veiled code words that … plainly reveal a discriminatory motive,” the motion states.
The groups also asked the judge to block a separate provision of immigration law S.B. 1070 that makes it a state crime to harbor undocumented people.
“Our Constitution protects us from state laws that intend to discriminate based on on the color of a person’s skin or her or his nationality,” said Karen Tumlin, managing attorney with the National Immigration Law Center. “The district court should block this hateful provision that threatens countless Arizonans’ basic right to live free from fear of harassment or prolonged detention.”
The coalition of civil rights groups includes the National Immigration Law Center, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, the ACLU of Arizona, the Asian Pacific American Legal Center, the Asian American Justice Center and the NAACP.
The groups filed a separate motion for a temporary restraining order, in case the 9th Circuit or federal district court dissolves the order barring enforcement of provision 2(B).