National Lawyers Guild Disturbed by Trend of Racist Legislation

April 26, 2010
Paige Cram
Communications Coordinator
212-679-5100, ext. 15

Immigration law SB-1070, signed on April 23, 2010 by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, is the latest piece of racist anti-immigrant legislation sweeping across the country. Titled “Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act,” the law not only requires local police to enforce federal immigration law, but also mandates that immigrants carry papers with them at all times.

This reactionary legislation does not stand alone. Two prominent government programs gaining in popularity—Secure Communities and 287(g)—give local law enforcement the power to act as federal immigration agents, engaging in racial profiling, harassment and ultimately imprisoning countless innocent immigrants. At the same time, politicians like Tim James, Republican candidate for governor of Alabama, stir paranoia and hatred by airing ads that condemn the state for giving the driver's license exam in languages other than English.

“Free-Trade Agreements have wreaked havoc on Mexico, allowing transnational corporations to flout borders and ignore national laws while simultaneously forcing workers, whose lands and livelihoods are stolen by those same transnationals, to travel to where they might find work at a living wage. The Arizona law will inevitably violate the human rights of millions of people, including Latino citizens and documented immigrants, living and working in the state who are just trying to support their families,” stated David Gespass, President of the National Lawyers Guild.

Instead of spending millions of dollars to fill our jails with hard-working people, states like Arizona should be creating living-wage jobs and supporting those who keep the economy afloat. More importantly, the federal government should be acting quickly to shut down any law that criminalizes groups of people based on their race or nationality.

“Any law that conflates all immigrants with ‘gangs’ is merely a way to scapegoat communities of color for this country’s ongoing problems. But we remain hopeful that last week’s events will ultimately prove galvanizing,” said Marc-Tizoc Gonzalez, Co-Chair of the NLG United People of Color Caucus.

The National Lawyers Guild opposes SB-1070 and is working with other groups to challenge it.  Executive Director Heidi Boghosian says, “We will provide legal observers at immigration rallies throughout the nation on May 1, and will continue to oppose any legislation that violates basic Constitutional guarantees of fair and equal treatment under the law.”

The National Lawyers Guild was founded in 1937 and is the oldest and largest public interest/human rights bar organization in the United States. Its headquarters are in New York and it has chapters in every state.