San Diegans United to Oppose Arizona’s Anti-Immigration Law

A broad and diverse range of faith and civil rights organizations and leaders representing more than 40 organizations and communities are joining together today to stand up in opposition to the irresponsible and inhumane SB 1070, signed into law in Arizona last Friday. The law turns unlawful presence, which is a federal civil law offense, into a state crime, and requires police to question and arrest people they suspect of being in the country illegally.

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Arizona’s SB 1070 is immigration reform at its worst, and represents a new low for the anti-immigrant movement. The new law threatens the fundamental constitutional rights of border state residents to move freely within the country. It poses a special threat to the civil rights and liberties of people of color who live in and travel through Arizona.

Most troubling, while the law’s proponents claim that race and ethnicity alone cannot be cause for questions about immigration status, public officials are already asserting that illegal immigrants can be identified by the clothes they wear and the way they speak. “This egregiously irresponsible law sets Arizona back half a century,” said Kevin Keenan, executive director of the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties. “It is a modern-day Jim Crow law, creating a suspect class of residents, invoking the worst images of police/community relations.”

“We are deeply concerned that SB 1070 will undermine public safety,” said Pedro Rios, director of the San Diego office of the American Friends Service Committee. “Families will be torn apart and legal residents will be afraid to walk the streets for fear of bringing attention to their private lives.” The Arizona Association of Chiefs of Police opposes SB 1070, fearing that it will undermine trust between police and the communities they are charged with protecting. When police officers engage in immigration enforcement, community members are less apt to call them when they witness or suffer a crime.

“This terrible, heart-breaking law goes against our values as a nation,” said Rev. Karen Georgia Thompson, minister for racial justice for the national United Church of Christ. “In troubling economic and emotional times such as these, we should be striving to be our best selves, not our lowest selves. All people of conscience need to stand together and declare that we are a nation that upholds human rights, freedom, fairness and equality.”

“We all need to move forward together to address the nation’s broken immigration system,” said Elizabeth Maldonado, chair of the San Diego Immigrant Rights Consortium. “We must remember that immigrants are our neighbors, coworkers and fellow worshipers in San Diego County. It’s our obligation to lift our voices and protect the most vulnerable among us.”

Faith, legal, labor, education and community leaders spoke out against SB 1070 today at a press conference, featuring Bruce Abrams, chair of the San Diego Human Relations Commission; Richard Barrrera, president of the San Diego Unified School District Board; Rita Cepeda, president of Mesa College; Sr. RayMonda DuVall, executive director of Catholic Charities of San Diego; Imam Taha Hassane of the Islamic Center of San Diego; Lei-Chala Wilson, president of the NAACP or San Diego; and Elizabeth Maldonado, chair of the San Diego Immigrant Rights Consortium, a coalition representing more than thirty local organizations.

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List of All Participants in Today’s Press Conference

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