MIRA Statement for the Mississippi House of Representatives, Judicial Committee B, August 23, 2012
Once again there is a possibility of legislative proposals being introduced into the 2013 Mississippi Legislative Session that are preempted by Federal Law.
On April 25, 2012, the United States Supreme Court ruled that Arizona’s SB 1070 was largely unconstitutional in Arizona v. United States. In its decision, the Supreme Court struck down three of the four sections of the law that were challenged. It also struck down a provision criminalizing undocumented workers for working— including much of Mississippi’s so-called Employment Protection Act of 2008. However, it upheld for the time being, the “show me your papers” racial profiling provision.
This past Monday, August 20th, a federal appeals court blocked most of the challenged provisions of Alabama and Georgia’s anti-immigrant laws. Significantly, the U.S. Court of appeals for the 11th Circuit found that section 28 of Alabama’s law, which requires the immigration verification of newly enrolled K-12 students, violates the Equal Protection Clause and could interfere children’s constitutional right to education. The court also blocked the registration and contracts provisions found in Alabama’s law, HB 56. In the Georgia ruling, the court determined that a section criminalizing transporting or harboring of immigrants was not permissible.
In both the Georgia and Alabama cases, the court issued a narrow ruling allowing the “show me your papers” provisions of HB 56 and HB 87 to remain or go into effect, but leaving open the possibility of future challenges on civil rights or due process grounds.
However, Arizona’s anti-immigrant racial profiling law continues to face legal challenges. This past Tuesday, Judge Bolton of the Federal District Court in Arizona heard arguments in Valle del Sol v. Whiting, et al. This lawsuit is a separate challenge and was brought by a coalition of civil rights groups seeking to block both the “show me your papers” provision and one that created a state crime for “harboring” people who are undocumented.
Proposals such as HB 488, introduced into the 2012 Mississippi Legislative Session violate our national values and national interests, as well as our Constitution. They promote racial profiling and deny equal justice. They are bad for business and our economic recovery, as similar laws other Southern states have bankrupted farmers and manufacturers and driven away corporations looking to locate there. They are divisive and expensive drawing boycotts, protests, and lawsuits. They divert precious law enforcement resources away from public safety. They embolden white supremacists, as hate crimes against immigrants, especially immigrants and other people of color are on the rise. They are against what America stands for.
States and localities are increasingly rejecting these laws as divisive, expensive, unworkable, and contrary to our values; they are increasingly moving toward commonsense approaches that uphold our values and move us forward together. We are confident that all of the Arizona law, and others like it, will ultimately be struck down as discriminatory racial profiling, serving as a warning to law makers considering going down Arizona’s path.
The United States Supreme Court has affirmed that the Federal Government is responsible for immigration laws, policies and priorities—Congress needs to live up to this responsibility now. Our country needs commonsense immigration policy that unifies us—only Congress can do this.
We encourage the Mississippi Legislature to reject these kinds of proposals as it has many times in the past, rising above the follies of Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina who by enacting these laws have moved them backwards by decades. Mississippi cannot afford not to.