St. Paul, MN (May 7, 2010) – The Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota calls on Federal leaders to take up a comprehensive reform of U.S. immigration laws and end the spread of state-based anti-immigration measures. Mimicking Arizona’s misguided and draconian law, House Representative Steve Drazkowski (R–Wabasha) yesterday proposed copy-cat legislation, HF3830.
The bill ignores both the serious constitutional challenges Arizona’s legislation faces and the net positive impact immigrant communities bring to Minnesota. Furthermore, with only days left in the session, there appears to be no real intention of passing the bill as all committee deadlines have passed and legislators face unprecedented fiscal challenges following the Minnesota Supreme Court’s recent unallotment decision.
HF3830 would clearly undermine community policing by creating distrust among immigrant victims and witnesses to crime, many protected under federal law. If a victim of domestic or sexual abuse refuses to call the police out of fear of detention and deportation, violent perpetrators are emboldened to threaten and act with impunity. Our communities and families are made up of citizens and the foreign born. HF3830 threatens their safety and would thwart federal immigrant victim protection laws. Senator Al Franken recently stated that the Arizona law creates mistrust between the immigrant population and law enforcement and that it is ”bad for public safety [and] goes way too far … it underscores the need for comprehensive immigration reform.”
Immigration law is exclusively federal according to the U.S. Constitution. Enforcement and any reform of this civil system of laws must begin and end in Washington. This bill, like Arizona’s SB1070, would likely lead to the legal challenge that it violates the Supremacy Clause, and unconstitutionally encourages racial profiling against Latinos and other people of color. The law would create a suspect class based on perceived ethnicity, considered guilty until proven innocent, regardless of immigration status or U.S. citizenship.
President Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder and Director of the Department of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano are contemplating filing suit to stop Arizona’s law due to its potential to violate civil rights. Holder stated it invites abuse and would “drive a wedge” between law enforcement and the communities they serve. Lawsuits have already been filed by an Arizona police officer and a coalition of faith organizations. More are expected by national civil rights agencies. The taxpayer funded legal costs to defend a multitude of lawsuits is likely to be enormous.
Minnesota must not risk national disapproval like Arizona. The city manager of Phoenix believes the city may lose “tens, if not hundreds of millions of dollars” because of SB1070. Arizona is the target of national boycotts and within the first week after passage, the Arizona Republic reported that over 19 events and 15,000 hotel room reservations were cancelled because of the new law. Also, Arizona’s bid to host the Republican or Democratic national conventions, the 2011 baseball all-star game, and national college football championships have been jeopardized because of national opposition.
Minnesotans, Arizonans and the U.S. need sensible federal reform of our immigration system, not piecemeal, suspect, enforcement-only measures like SB1070 or HF3830. A recent report by the Minnesota Business Immigration Reform Coalition stated that immigrants “constitute an important resource to the nation and the state, as a result of their entrepreneurial activity, consumer spending, tax payments, [and] participation in the labor force.” In Minnesota, business, labor, religious and civic leaders are currently working in coalition to support Federal legislation that will respect American values, fix our broken immigration system, and move the country forward together.
ILCM is a unique nonprofit 501(c)3 organization; in addition to providing high-quality legal services to low-income immigrants in Minnesota, ILCM educates immigrant and nonimmigrant communities about immigration matters, and is a leader in legislative advocacy. ILCM is currently the only legal program in Minnesota to provide free comprehensive immigration services to low-income persons of all nationalities who are ineligible for federally funded legal services programs. ILCM is also one of the few agencies available to provide education, training and outreach to other professionals and the community at large in immigration affairs.