Despite Injunction, Damage from Arizona Immigration Law Is Already Done
For faith leaders who oppose Arizona’s new immigration law, the preliminary injunction barring enforcement of the bill's key provisions is an immense relief.
But it is also a reminder that this "victory is temporary." The damage of SB 1070 to families and the state’s economy, they said, has already been done.
"This is great news. It has been a pretty rough 90 days," Rev. Trina Zelle, lead organizer of the Arizona Interfaith Alliance for Worker Justice, said in a conference call with members of the press on Wednesday afternoon. "But the reality is that the injunction will not change the situation in Arizona."
Since Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed SB 1070 into law, Zelle said that authorities have already begun enforcing it. Since April 23, she said, there has been an uptick in the number of undocumented immigrants who were apprehended by police officers in Arizona.
"Even with this injunction, my sense is that people who decided to leave will continue to leave. Those who already left for another state may not return. We will get more sad news about neighborhoods that are clearing out," she said. "What is important now is to monitor that this injunction is being followed by law enforcers."
U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton Wednesday issued a preliminary injunction that prevents the implementation of certain provisions of SB 1070. Specifically, the judge blocked the bill's provision that requires police to "make a reasonable attempt to determine the immigration status of a person stopped, detained or arrested if the officer has a reasonable suspicion that the person is in the country
Hussam Ayloush, director of the California branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, was also pleased with the judge's ruling.
However, he believes that interfaith leaders and their organizations have more work to do.
"My Islamic faith, like any other faith, stands for justice at all times. We should continue to oppose SB 1070," Ayloush said. "As a Muslim, I personally know how it feels to be marginalized and profiled. Many members of my community face border delays, interrogations, imprisonment, and a lengthy naturalization process. SB 1070 is an ill-advised and ineffective way to secure our borders."
Peter Morales, president of the Unitarian Universalist Association, said it is time to emphasize changing the societal attitudes that have "vilified immigrants." Although a temporary injunction of some of its key provisions has been issued, he said, the "clear racist overtone of the legislation" still exists.
"Americans are given the story that our country is (being) invaded by immigrants," Morales said. "We're playing cultural fear in order to marginalize them. This is a central human rights issue, and we should change the hearts and minds of the people."
Interfaith organizations and their supporters still plan to hold vigils and prayer rallies in Phoenix and in different cities and states throughout the day on Thursday. Demonstrations will be held in more than 20 cities across the country, including Phoenix, Chicago, Oakland, Cincinnati, Milwaukee, Toledo, San Francisco, Houston, Denver, Philadelphia and New York.
The preliminary injunction “in no way changes the fact that we need comprehensive immigration reform and there are still serious problems with the Arizona legislation," according to Kim Bobo, executive director of Interfaith Worker Justice. "A comprehensive immigration reform will be good for both the workers and the business owners."
Bobo said the next step for interfaith groups is to lobby lawmakers. "The main thing now is to meet with our local senators," she said. "We need to be making a case for the moral and economic components of immigration."