With the Rev. Jed Rardin looking on, Father Joe Gurdack of St. Augustin Parish speaks about the difficulties facing local immigrant families.Photo: AFSC / Arnie Alpert
Immigrant leaders, clergy, and other concerned people gathered at the State House June 25 to express alarm at aspects of the US Supreme Court’s ruling upholding part of Arizona’s anti-immigrant law.
The decision affirmed that the federal government maintains sole control over immigration policies. However, it also sustained the egregious “show me your papers” clause which in its implementation implicitly endorses racial profiling.
“Today’s ruling unfortunately upholds the worst part of this mean-spirited law, even as it overturns other sections. In effect, this means one’s human rights can be violated because he or she speaks with an accent or has brown skin. This is terrible news for immigrants, and for all of us who work to end racial discrimination and to promote civil and human rights,” said Maggie Fogarty, Economic Justice Project Coordinator for the AFSC.
The State House vigil was sponsored by AFSC’s New Hampshire Program and the NH Alliance for Immigrants and Refugees (NH AIR).
Both AFSC and NHAIR have strongly opposed Arizona’s SB 1070 since its passage in 2010. On June 4th, 2010, AFSC signed an amicus brief stating that the law violates both the Arizona and US Constitutions.
Speaking in front of the State House steps, Ana Ford Herrero, VP of the State Employees Union, said she “hopes this is not encouragement for hatred and that we can bring everyone together.”
“We will do our part to make sure Arizona’s laws will not affect New Hampshire communities,” commented Enrique Mesa, an immigration attorney who also chairs the Governor’s Commission on Latino Affairs.
Claire Ebel, the Executive Director of the NH Civil Liberties Union, was pleased that the Court had struck down three aspects of the Arizona law but said of the remaining measure, “we are left with an issue that raises the specter of Nazi Germany, ‘papers please,’ the antithesis of what the US stands for.”
“In New Hampshire this year, we gave a resounding ‘no’ to this same provision in the form of HB 1494,” said Eva Castillo, Coordinator of NHAIR. “The House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee voted 14-1 to recommend the bill as ‘inexpedient to legislate,’ and the full House agreed on February 15. But this same legislature did pass HCR 2, expressing its support for Arizona’s actions. So we’ll need to stay organized and vigilant to keep a ‘show me your papers’ law from coming to New Hampshire.”
In fact, the Rev. Joe Gurdack, pastor at St. Augustin Parish in Manchester, immigrants are already suffering terribly in New Hampshire. Speaking of a member of his congregation who was recently asked for his papers while sitting in a car, he said “we want to stop the suffering and enable people to live in peace.”
AFSC and NHAIR welcome and support further legal challenges to SB 1070 that would seek to render the entire law as unconstitutional, and call upon immigrant rights advocates to prepare for similar laws to be proposed in state legislatures across the country.
“We will continue to work together with immigrant communities and other allies to stand against hate and discrimination, and for policies that are welcoming and inclusive. We are also working to empower the immigrant community by promoting the increase of naturalization and civic engagement,” Castillo added.
AFSC and NH AIR urge Congress and the Obama administration to utilize the following seven principles to guide reform:
- Adopt economic policies consistent with human rights and trade justice
- Protect all workers’ labor rights
- Create a clear, workable path to residency
- Respect immigrants’ civil and human rights
- Demilitarize the U.S.-Mexico border
- Support family reunification
- Ensure immigrants access to services