'No way to implement' Arizona immigration law, Villaraigosa says
A day after the Supreme Court handed down its decision on Arizona’s controversial immigration law, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa gathered with activists on the steps of City Hall to lay out plans for a continued fight for immigration rights.
Officials in attendance Tuesday morning were the latest to chime in on the court’s 5-3 decision, which has drawn mixed reactions and claims of victory from both supporters and opponents.
The court ultimately rejected three key components of Arizona’s SB 1070, ruling that the federal government, not states, holds responsibility for enforcing immigration laws. But it upheld the “show me your papers” provision, which directs police to check the immigration status of people they “reasonably suspect” are in the country illegally when making legal stops for other reasons.
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer called it “a victory for the rule of law.” President Obama said he was “pleased” with the decision, but was “concerned about the practical impact” of the allowed provision.
His remarks echoed concerns from many critics, who have long suggested the “show me your papers” rule would open the door for racial profiling.
Flanked by about 50 supporters holding signs that said “Arizona no!” and “No! Ser humano no es ilegal!,” Villaraigosa said Tuesday that he supported most of the court's decision but believed the remaining provision would eventually be overturned for that reason.
“There is no way to implement this provision without discriminating, without profiling, without violating the constitutional rights of the people involved,” the mayor said.
City Councilman Eric Garcetti was even more blunt, calling the provision “outrageous and offensive and un-American.”
“Let us be clear: The provision may be alive for now but it is on life support,” Villagra said. “It is only a matter of time.”
Many speakers, including the mayor, also expressed support for an alternative approach to immigration reform in California. They cited the Trust Act, a bill currently moving through the California Legislature that would require police to detain arrested immigrants for deportation purposes only if they have a serious or violent felony conviction under state law.
The measure is intended to counter a controversial federal immigration program, Secure Communities, that requires police to forward to immigration authorities the fingerprints of all arrestees booked into local jails, and, if asked, hold people eligible for deportation until federal officials come calling.
“We are not Arizona. We are California. We are the Golden State,” Villaraigosa said to applause. “We’re the epicenter of the immigrant population in America and the undocumented population in America.... We have a right to say that we’re going to take a different path.”
— Kate Mather
Photo: Tanya Hernandez, 4, holds a sign in support of the Trust Act on the steps of Los Angeles City Hall on Tuesday morning. Credit: Arkasha Stevenson/Los Angeles Times