On Monday, the United States Supreme Court struck down three key provisions of a 2010 Arizona immigration law: allowing police to arrest immigrants without a warrant if there was a belief that they had committed an offense that warranted deportation; making it illegal for immigrants to be caught without registration papers; and preventing immigrants who are not authorized to work legally in the United States from seeking employment. The Court upheld the most controversial part of the law, which allows law enforcement personnel to check a person’s immigration status while enforcing other laws. MassEquality Executive Director Kara Suffredini, Esq. issued the following statement:
“We are happy that the US Supreme Court found three of our provisions of the 2010 Arizona immigration law unconstitutional, and that the Court left the door open for future challenges to the fourth piece of the law. This odious law is distinctly un-American. Discrimination based on the way one looks or speaks violates the core American value of equal treatment, and, perpetrated at the hands of government, it’s a particularly unconscionable violation of human dignity and equality under the law.
“MassEquality is working to create a Commonwealth and a country where everyone is equally valued and able to live safe, authentic lives, free from harassment, discrimination and violence simply because of who they are. The lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities are unfortunately all too familiar with the daily experience of having to be careful about how they appear, how they behave, how they speak and where they go in order to avoid being punished solely because of their appearance. Members of the LGBT community who are also immigrants have that much more to worry about when lawmakers attempt to legalize such profiling by law enforcement. Profiling by law enforcement—the very entity upon which we should be able to rely in America to keep us safe, protect our rights, and preserve our dignity—is a particularly horrific assault on American values of freedom and opportunity. It makes all of us less safe as it discourages anyone in need of police assistance from contacting the police for fear of being profiled.
“Here in Massachusetts, lawmakers have the opportunity to make it much more difficult for law enforcement personnel to engage in profiling in the Commonwealth, and we hope they will seize it. Two bills sponsored by state Rep. Byron Rushing and state Sen. Sonia Chang-Díaz would prohibit law enforcement personnel from relying on race, ethnicity, or national origin in determining who should be subjected to traffic stops, bodily frisks and searches, and other forms of police interrogation and would require the collection of racial demographic data when police stop motorists who are not wearing seatbelts in order to discourage police officers from using the seatbelt law as a pretext for pulling over people of color.
“Freedom from discrimination, harassment and violence based solely on how we look and who we are is an aspiration we all should share and a basic human right to which we’re all entitled.”