HeadCount Human Rights Issue Update: Immigration Law

By now, you've probably heard about the controversial new immigration law that will take effect in Arizona on July 28. The legislation, known officially as the Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act or Senate Bill 1070, gives local police the ability to demand a person's identification and detain that person if they believe there is reasonable suspicion that the person is an undocumented immigrant.  While there is an argument that the law addresses the need to control human trafficking, some politicians and advocacy organizations claim that this law violates human rights.

  • Left leaning politicians have been some of the most vocal critics of the human rights consequences of the new law. New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson called Senate Bill 1070 an "unconstitutional human rights-violating law." Days earlier, Mexican President Felipe Calderon rebuked the move: "my government cannot and will not remain indifferent when these kinds of policies go against human rights." President Obama has addressed the new law and has "directed [his] administration to examine the civil rights and other implications."
  • Most on the right support the new bill, including former Presidential candidate and current Arizona Senator, John McCain. Some, like Florida gubernatorial candidate Marco Rubio are also invoking human rights, citing Arizona's human trafficking problems as justification for the state's new powers.  However, some are challenging this viewpoint, noting that the new law may drive victims of human trafficking further underground, and away from potential resources.
  • Arizona sheriff Clarence Dupnik wrote a riveting Wall Street Journal op-ed, questioning whether the broad definition of "reasonable suspicion" in Senate Bill 1070 is in line with the Equal Protections Clause of the U.S. Constitution. And Dupnik isn't the only one engaging in serious debate about how a police officer will be able to distinguish a documented person from an undocumented one.
  • The members of the Phoenix Suns NBA team protested their state's new legislation on Cinco de Mayo by donning "Los Suns" jerseys. Other notable professional athletes and sports fans alike have led the pack, speaking out against the Arizona immigration law, as have Latin American pop stars Shakira and Ricky Martin. That said, recent polls indicate that just over half of Americans support the law. One thing that's for certain is that the current controversy is bound to reshape the national immigration debate.

Pissed off? Comment below or contact your elected officialsand let them know what you think.  Immigration will shape the future of our country.  Make your voice heard!