May 17th, 2010
01:48 PM ET
8 years ago

Civil rights groups file challenge to Arizona immigration law


A barbed wire fence delineates the U.S.-Mexico border in Montezuma Pass, Arizona. (Photo Credit: Getty Images/File)

(CNN) - (CNN) - A broad coalition of civil rights groups filed a class-action lawsuit Monday challenging Arizona's controversial new immigration law, saying, among other things, that the measure violates the U.S. Constitution and will lead to racial profiling.

The coalition includes the American Civil Liberties Union, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Asian Pacific American Legal Center.

"Arizona's law is quintessentially un-American: we are not a 'show me your papers' country, nor one that believes in subjecting people to harassment, investigation and arrest simply because others may perceive them as foreign," ACLU attorney Omar Jadwat said in a written statement.

"This law violates the Constitution and interferes with federal law, and we are confident that we will prevent it from ever taking effect."

The recently enacted Arizona law initially allowed police to ask anyone for proof of legal U.S. residency, based solely on a police officer's suspicion that the person might be in the country illegally. Arizona lawmakers soon amended the law so that officers could check a person's status only if the person had been stopped or arrested for another reason.

Critics insist the law will lead to racial profiling; supporters deny the charge and insist the measure is needed to crack down on increasing crime involving illegal immigrants.

The lawsuit claims that the Arizona law violates of the U.S. Constitution's Supremacy Clause, under which federal statutes trump state laws. It also argues that the measure violates the Constitution's equal protection and free speech guarantees, as well as the prohibition of unreasonable seizures.

In Arizona, the city councils of Tucson and Flagstaff also have decided to challenge the new immigration law in court. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder recently said the Justice Department is also considering filing a
lawsuit against the controversial measure.

President Barack Obama has criticized the measure, saying that in dealing with the immigration issue, "the answer isn't to undermine fundamental principles that define us as a nation."

Forty-two percent of adults nationwide support the Arizona law while 24 percent oppose it, according to a May 7-11 AP-GfK poll. Only 15 percent of Hispanics back the measure, however, while 67 percent oppose it, according a May 7-12 AP-Univision survey.

Fifty-nine percent of adults nationwide supported the measure in a May 6-9 Pew Research Center Poll. Thirty-two percent opposed it.

Updated: 2:13 p.m.

Filed under: Arizona • Immigration • Popular Posts
soundoff (62 Responses)
  1. Mike

    Good, I've been profiled and harassed throughout my life for being Hispanic. I'm an educated professional, who can defend himself verbally. I can't imagine how immigrants would fair under undue stress.

    May 17, 2010 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  2. ehwilson429

    they support 100% open borders.

    problem the money is all gone.

    May 17, 2010 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  3. Obama the liar

    the four most racist organizations in America. I'm surprised the Congressional Black Caucus is not jumping in yet.

    May 17, 2010 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  4. Sean

    Glad to see that this process has begun. I'm all for immigration reform, but not through divisive measures such as what Arizona has been legislating and promoting.

    May 17, 2010 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  5. Madam X

    This is utterly treasonous. There is nothing about the AZ law that is illegal. What IS illegal is illegals and not enforcing FEDERAL law. All this bs over papers makes me sick. I've had to show papers for years and years in a variety of situations. It comes with the territory. Try reading the whole law. Try acting like you are a citizen of this country instead of a seditious, treasonous dysfunctional. I get where this is going. Civil war. I bet that makes all you brown racists and ACLU treasonous dysfunctionals all happy. I am so mad it isn't funny and you are only alienating yourselves and creating disharmony and violent actions. You are committing a federal law crime by crossing state lines and country lines to commit treasonous and seditious acts that turn into violence or have the potential for violence. Are you happy now? I remember when this country use to make some sense. Not anymore.

    May 17, 2010 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  6. Wake UP

    Why do people and groups now just lie like politicians?

    Be HONEST with us, YOU WANT AN OPEN BORDER WITH MEXICO! Dems wants Mexicans they just will do anything for that vote, including just let illegals come and steal from our government.

    This law is the least AZ can do. Get the illegals out NOW. NOW.

    May 17, 2010 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  7. Dale

    "Arizona lawmakers soon amended the law so that officers could check a person's status only if the person had been stopped or arrested for another reason." - They wouldn't be backpeddling if they didn't see the weaknesses in the law's legality.

    The immigration issue is a serious issue. But this is not the solution. This turns AZ into a "papers required at all times" state, a halmark of government oppression. The law is in direct opposition to "innocent until proven guilty" since the police will ARREST YOU if you can't prove your innocence. And then there is the little thing about racial profiling. But that doesn't bother me because I am not Hispanic. (sarcasm)

    May 17, 2010 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  8. phoenix86

    So a civil rights group joins the democrats in opposing that a State uphold and enforce a law.

    Liberals are truely mentally deranged.

    May 17, 2010 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |

    Arizona tell them Hades is where they belong. The majority of the nation is behind you. The only ones who are not are OBAMA backers. OBAMA just appointed two more muslims to his staff. HOW LONG AMERICA ARE YOU PUTTING UP WITH THIS FARCE.

    May 17, 2010 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  10. John independent from NY

    I applaud Arizona's law. If they are here illegally they are criminals.

    May 17, 2010 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  11. S Callahan

    To me what is violated is not respecting the laws of the country. It's sad that so many people are affected, but the truth is these are the same people who entered this country 'illegally'. It just baffles me that civil rights groups are fighting to continue not honoring the laws of the makes no sense. Somewhere, a boundary has to be clearly drawn.

    May 17, 2010 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |

    When I was given the Green card as a legal resident for this country, I was told to carry in my person all the time. I belive only reason was that to prove my legality in this country. If that is the case why ACLU and all those making big fuss about showing your papers. After all it is a sovereign country with clearly defined border. Every day we show our ID many times at the stores, banks, air ports and so many places. So why ACLU is saying we are not the country to "show your papers" ' '[.

    May 17, 2010 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
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