Immigrants' and civil rights groups vow to monitor enforcement of “show me your papers” law

September 15, 2016

PHOENIX, AZ - The Arizona Attorney General's Office today issued an opinion establishing guidelines for the implementation of two remaining provisions of the state's 2010 racial profiling law, SB 1070.

With the opinion, the organizations that brought Valle del Sol et al. v. Whiting et al. have agreed to conclude this challenge to SB 1070, which has largely been rendered unenforceable by the courts.

Every criminal provision of SB 1070 has been blocked and today's Attorney General opinion, which will be sent to law enforcement agencies across the state, sets down narrow guidelines for how two remaining provisions of the law, Sections 2(B) and 2(D), can be enforced. The opinion dictates that officers cannot use race or ethnicity to develop reasonable suspicion that someone is unlawfully present in the United States, cannot stop people solely to investigate immigration status, and cannot hold people in order to investigate immigration status if it will extend the stop beyond the time necessary to address the state law basis for the contact.

"Arizona blazed a trail of mean-spirited policies intended to starve and isolate immigrants six years ago, and many states followed this flawed path," said MALDEF's National Senior Counsel Victor Viramontes. "After millions of dollars spent on lawyers, multiple federal decisions blocking key provisions of the law, and finally a state-issued opinion severely constraining local law enforcement, Arizona's policies have failed to serve anyone living in Arizona."

"This last step in the SB 1070 litigation makes it clear that what the legislature intended — and much of the immigration enforcement that police in Arizona previously engaged in — is unlawful," said Omar Jadwat, a senior staff attorney with the ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project. "The Attorney General's legal opinion makes it clear that no one can be detained based on suspected immigration status, and no one can be targeted because of their race. Officers who do not pay scrupulous attention to the limits of their authority will be held accountable, just as Sheriff Arpaio has been held accountable."

"Thanks to the inspiring people who brought this lawsuit, the state of Arizona is finally making a public commitment to permanently uphold basic civil rights protections threatened by its misguided 2010 anti-immigrant law," said Karen Tumlin, legal director at the National Immigration Law Center. "While this important agreement marks an end to a hard-fought legal battle, we will continue to be vigilant to ensure that local law enforcement doesn't violate these important protections. A recognition of the rights of communities of color on paper is not enough until it is reflected in the lived experience of all Arizonans."

Plaintiffs in the case include Valle del Sol, the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Service Employees International Union, the United Food & Commercial Workers International Union, Southside Presbyterian Church of Tucson, Coalicion de Derechos Humanos, Arizona South Asians for Safe Families, the Asian Chamber of Commerce of Arizona, Border Action Network, the Arizona Chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League, and Tonatierra Community Development Institute.

Counsel on the case include the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the National Immigration Law Center, the American Civil Liberties Union Immigrants' Rights Project, the ACLU of Arizona, the National Day Labor Organizing Network, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, the Ortega Law Firm, P.C., Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP, and Altshuler Berzon LLP.

The Arizona Attorney General opinion filed today is available HERE.

The joint agreement to end Valle del Sol et al. v. Whiting et al. is available HERE.

Founded in 1968, MALDEF is the nation's leading Latino legal civil rights organization. Often described as the "Latino Legal Voice for Civil Rights in America" MALDEF promotes social change through advocacy, communications, community education, and litigation in the areas of education, employment, immigrant rights, and political access. For more information on MALDEF, please visit:

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