Council Members Melissa Mark-Viverito and Julissa Ferreras have issued a joint statement on anti-immigrant legislation in Arizona that yesterday became law. Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed the bill (known as S.B. 1070) yesterday, despite deep criticism from immigrant communities, civil rights organizations and even President Obama.
This new law, which is the most anti-immigrant this country has seen in decades, will give police the broad authority to ask for any individual’s proof of citizenship based on “reasonable suspicion” that they may be undocumented. It will also officially make the failure to carry immigration documents a crime, which is punishable by fines or jail time.
Below is the Council Members’ joint statement:
The signing of S.B. 1070 yesterday by Governor Brewer was a devastating blow to immigrant communities and people of color, not only in Arizona but across the country. This legislation, which has now become law, is the cumulative result of years of inaction on the part of the federal government to reform our broken immigration system, and its passage has sent a clear message to Washington that we simply cannot wait any longer for just and humane immigration reform.
We truly thank President Obama for his statement yesterday and for expressing the deep concerns that so many of us share about this new law. Clearly, the President recognizes S.B. 1070 for what it is: an open invitation for racial profiling, discrimination and civil rights violations, a fear tactic to drive immigrant communities further underground and a dangerous precedent for other states and localities who may look to follow Arizona’s lead. President Obama knows that comprehensive immigration reform is the only way to finally put an end to these draconian, harmful policies being enacted at the local level, and his words yesterday helped to once again bring immigration reform to the forefront of national policy discussions.
What we need now is action on the part of the federal government to pass immigration reform, including a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. We need our Senator, Chuck Schumer, to initiate the debate in the Senate by introducing his long-awaited reform legislation. And we need the President to continue to speak publicly and demonstrate leadership on this issue, and to work actively with the Congress to enact reform this year.
We are proud to represent communities with high numbers of recent immigrants from all over the world, just as we are proud to live in a city that welcomes immigrants and values the enormous contributions they make to our social and economic life.
Yesterday’s news from Arizona, while distressing, is far from an end to this long struggle, and will only help reinvigorate all of us to push forward for just and humane immigration reform.