Ethnic Media Join Forces Against SB 1070

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PHOENIX, Ariz. -- Arizona Rep. Cloves Campbell Jr., Phoenix-D, called for a boycott of the state during a May 6 strategy meeting for ethnic media organized by New America Media.

SB 1070 at a Glance
Jennifer Allen, Border Action Network

1. While in the course of enforcing any state, county or municipal law or ordinance, the law requires police officers to determine people’s immigration status when they have a reasonable suspicion they might be undocumented. Reasonable suspicion could include not speaking English and not having a driver’s license, for example. The law enforcement officer is required to verify the individual’s immigration status with immigration officials, except to the extent that it would hinder an ongoing investigation.

2. Creates a new state crime of not carrying one’s identification that proves lawful immigration status in the United States. A violation of this state law would be a misdemeanor.

3. Gives private citizens legal standing to sue if they think city law enforcement are not complying fully with SB 1070. Creates a private right of action for any legal resident of the state of Arizona to sue a city, town, or county for any violation of subsection (A) and establishes civil penalties for the city, town, or county ranging from $500 to $5,000 for every day they are found not to fully enforce SB1070.

4. Prohibits cities, towns, and counties from having any policy in place limiting the investigation of violations of federal enforcement laws to less than the full extent permitted by federal law. This section of the new law bans what is referred to as “sanctuary city” policies and prohibits law enforcement from using discretion or having flexibility in dealing with immigrant communities.

5. Creates a new state crime to be a day laborer or to hire a day laborer while obstructing traffic. The law makes it a misdemeanor to attempt to hire or pick up day laborers to work at a different location if the driver is impeding the normal flow of traffic. It also makes it a misdemeanor for a worker to get into a car if it is impeding traffic.

6. Makes it a state crime to transport, move, conceal, harbor, shield from detection, or attempt to do any of the above, any undocumented immigrant if the person knows or recklessly disregards the fact that the immigrant has entered or remained in the United States illegally. This provision only applies if the person has also committed a criminal offense.

7. Allows government agencies to maintain and share information about someone’s immigration status with other government entities, including immigration officials.

More than 40 representatives of Asian, African-American, Muslim, Latino, and Native-American media and immigration advocates discussed the need for accurate information on Arizona’s new immigration law, SB 1070.

The law, which will take effect at the end of July, would make it a state crime for a person to be undocumented. Critics argue it would lead to racial profiling by police, affecting all ethnic communities in Arizona.

“SB 1070 is the final wave of a tsunami of anti-immigrant legislation,” said Campbell, emphasizing the role of ethnic media to report on the subject.

Campbell is also co-publisher of the Arizona Informant Newspaper, a publication that has served the African-American community of Arizona for more than 40 years. Participants agreed that was crucial for ethnic media to inform audiences about their rights, and to document the diverse communities that could be impacted by the law.

“We feel more threaten than before. Many of us look Hispanic too,” said Marwan Ahmad, president of the Muslim Voice and the Arab Voice. “This is another battle or fight for our civil liberties. We need to fight and stand up and say this is not acceptable.”

Jennifer Allen, executive director of Border Action Network, outlined the major components of the new law, noting that SB 1070 also makes it a crime for a person to harbor or transport an undocumented immigrant.

“This law is tearing our state apart,” she said.

Allen noted that there has been strong opposition to the new law by broad sectors of businesses, religious leaders and law enforcement personnel represented through the Arizona Association of Police Chiefs.

Luis Avila, a local activist and journalist from the radio show El Break voiced concerns about misinformation in the media that is planting fear in immigrant communities by exaggerating the impact of the new law.

Members of different ethnic media outlets expressed interest in working together, including publishing a joint editorial against the bill, airing public service announcements that demonstrate the law’s impact on diverse communities, and sharing content that sheds light on the human face of the law.