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Tide has already turned in Mississippi against “Show Me Your Papers”

26 June 2012 No Comment
Statement by the Mississippi ACLU
June 26, 2012


The decision by the U.S. Supreme Court today to overturn the injunction on one of the key parts of S.B. 1070, Arizona’s anti-immigrant law, shows just how out of touch the Court is with reality, said Bear Atwood, Legal Director of the ACLU of Mississippi. “The people of Arizona will be at risk of racial profiling as they must now wait to see how their own state court will interpret the law before the federal courts can rule on preemption.”


Mississippi has already rejected Arizona’s controversial approach because it harms citizens and non-citizens alike.  During the 2012 legislative session, Mississippi rejected an S.B. 1070 “copycat” bill after state law enforcement officials, business leaders, faith leaders, and civil rights groups raised multiple concerns about the dangers of such a law.


“Mississippi is not Arizona, and we will continue to forge our own path,” Atwood said. “However, we have seen the devastating impact a similar law has had on our nearest neighbor, Alabama. Ultimately, the court’s decision will have limited impact in Mississippi because Mississippians have already realized that laws like these harm business, undermine police work, and threaten our most basic American values.    Anti-immigrant laws modeled after Arizona’s SB 1070 are proving to be a failed experiment, one that we must not repeat in Mississippi.”


The Court reversed the injunction on one of the most controversial parts of S.B. 1070, the so-called “show me your papers” provision. If this section goes into effect, it will require police to determine the immigration status of someone legally arrested or detained if they have a “reasonable suspicion” that person is not in the country legally.


“That means if, for whatever reason, your last name, color of your skin or your accent allows you to be perceived as ‘foreign’ you’re vulnerable to being stopped,” said ACLU National Executive Director Anthony D. Romero. “That’s not an America we want to live in.”


“We may have come on different ships, but we are all in the same boat now. In Mississippi people from all walks of life joined together to oppose anti-immigrant legislation.  We will continue to work with our neighbors and allies to ensure that everyone is treated fairly, with equality under the law. Only then, can we all share the American Dream,” said Pastor CJ Rhodes of Jackson’s Mt. Helm Baptist Church.


“Show me your papers laws” exact a heavy financial toll.  Alabama’s state economy has taken a multi-billion dollar hit as a result of its law.  Arizona saw a drop in sales tax revenue and a jump in the unemployment rate when S.B. 1070 first became law in 2010. Farmers have seen their crops rot and are planting less because the workers they have relied on for decades have fled in fear.


Anti-immigrant laws also drain the resources of county sheriffs and local police departments who do not want the burden of serving as immigration agents while also trying to protect their communities.  “We are the poorest state in the nation, and our local communities are already pushed beyond their limits, said Nancy Kohsin-Kintigh, Program Director at the ACLU of Mississippi.  “Our local governments should be spending scarce resources on building strong communities and schools, not on unfunded mandates to do the federal government’s job for them.”


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