Immigrants’ Rights on Trial at the Supreme Court

by on April 20, 2012 · 15 comments

in American Empire, Civil Rights, From the Soul, San Diego

I jump at every chance available to me to soften the racist and xenophobic noise that emanates from Arizona incessantly.

Why? Because when you’re subjected to second class citizenship as I was as a child in the Grand Canyon State your life’s dreams are filled with images of a better world, a world where all people are treated with dignity as human beings who are deserving of love.

So, along these lines, two dear friends of mine, Marjorie Cohn, attorney, professor of Thomas Jefferson Law school, author of several books (her latest, “The United States and Torture: Interrogation, incarceration and Abuse”), Angela Garcia-Sims, retired educator and educational consultant extraordinaire, and I have put together a panel to discuss the implications of SB1070, Arizona’s racial profiling law. The United States Supreme Court will hear arguments regarding this sad piece of legislation on Wednesday, April 25.

Our panel on the matter will take place

Monday, April 23, at 7:15 pm to 8:45 pm in Room 323 at

Thomas Jefferson School of Law,

1155 Island Avenue, San Diego.

Ms. Cohn will be one of the panelists along with Andrea Guerrero, Executive Director, Equality Alliance, San Diego: Pedro Rios, AFSC, Chairperson, San Diego Immigrant Rights Consortium; and Roberto Hernandez, Professor, San Diego State University.

I see this as a wonderful opportunity for people to hear ideas that would enable them to: better understand the components of the law that will be reviewed by the Supreme Court; contemplate possible rulings that the court could make along with effects those rulings may have on our society; come away from the evening knowing a little history of the law; get a feeling for the impact that SB1070 could have on our society, in general, including copy cat laws in other states that would threaten the well-being of so many undocumented people; see how the law and others like it are related to federal immigration laws, enforcement, and the federal DREAM Act.

Hispanic News reports that:

“It likely will be months before the justices actually rule. But whatever they decide will have nationwide implications, as several states already have copied and enacted similar laws.

“Hanging in the balance are several sections of the statute, including:

requiring a police officer to make a reasonable attempt to check the immigration status of those they have stopped; forbidding police from releasing anyone they have arrested until that person’s immigration status is determined; making it a violation of Arizona law for anyone not a citizen to fail to carry federally issued documentation; allowing police to make warrantless arrests if there is a belief the person has committed an offense that allows them to be removed from the United States; creating a new state crime of trying to secure work while not a legal resident.”

So much of SB1070, it seems to me, threatens our ability as a nation to show compassion, to pursue life affirming ways to solve serious social and political problems. But I think we’re capable of realizing a little boy’s dream of a better world, a world where all people are treated with dignity as human beings who are deserving of love. So, in pursuit of such an ideal, I’m hoping people will join us Monday night.

Parking is a premium near Thomas Jefferson Law School but one can park for $3 at the Padres Parkade on 11th Street across the street from the school and the trolley stops on Park and Island, right at the school.

Cookies and drinks for everyone.

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Prattle On, Boyo April 20, 2012 at 9:47 am

I am continually astonished at the mental gymnastics some are willing to twist themselves (and others) into buying that illegal immigration is a noble idea. The U.S. is the only developed nation on the planet where undocumented ppl expect entitlements. Hey, here’s an idea – If you want your rights, how about becoming a citizen the old fashioned way instead of sneaking over the border and then crying about it when you get caught?


avatar Ernie McCray April 20, 2012 at 9:53 am

I surely don’t think that illegal immigration is a noble idea. I do know that if I was starving along with my family I would climb fences, crawl through tunnels, trek across deserts and mountains, swim in rivers and oceans to survive – for I am human. I think you would too. Wouldn’t you? That’s the old fashioned way.


avatar Isaac April 20, 2012 at 12:33 pm

Dear Prattle On. Boyo: What I’m opposed to is racists hijacking the immigration debate, and right politicians (and radio talk show hosts) fueling xenophobia for personal gain. There’s no mental gymnastics thre.


avatar Lois April 21, 2012 at 8:51 pm

Ernie: You give me more to think about. I certainly agree with you if you were in such distress and starving, I would do the same thing. However, what I don’t agree with is the ones that come to take freely demanding “their rights,” when they give nothing in return. Why does the subject of the immigrants that have done what they needed to do, stand in line and do it the right way as other immigrants have to obtain their citizenship. No one seems to talk about them. One time I went with my church to distribute Christmas gifts to some of the residents of Tijuana. I found it hard to believe what these people had to do to survive. One of the joyful things about this was seeing the joy of the children receiving the gifts. Another thing that I was impressed with, these children were very neatly groomed and dressed and very well behaved. It was a joy to see the look of gratefulness on their faces. Something good was happening there. These were not the people who would come and pilfer the U.S. Perhaps they were the kind of people with values and maybe they were some of the ones that were trying to improve their situations the right way. I really felt what I was seeing there was good there. Wish I was more knowlegdable about the good intentions that seem to be there instead of the ones wanting to be just given to.


avatar Ernie McCray April 21, 2012 at 11:52 pm

I personally haven’t met any undocumented workers who came here demanding anything. Generally speaking we’re talking about people who want to work, who come from a non-welfare existence. People who come here the “right way” aren’t the ones who are desperate.


avatar wendyxqm April 23, 2012 at 11:04 am

Europeans are the illegal immigrants in the so called United States. We did not become citizens the old-fashioned way; we did it the “American Way” through imperialism, colonialism, and violation of everyone’s rights.


avatar JEC April 23, 2012 at 12:32 pm

We are only human – the idea of “rights” appeals to our intellect; the idea of righteousness appeals to our emotions. A tricky balance. Every national boundary; every dominant culture was established through violence or the threat of it. To grow beyond will require us to eventually accept those cultures, those boundaries or commit ourselves to more violence.


avatar Maurice Martin April 20, 2012 at 11:06 am

Dear Prattle On , So I can understand, your argument is, we should blame the Immigrants in their crossing the border ? Do we share any responsibility in any of this border crossing. When our government ( the US) has destroyed a country’s farming economy through the passing of NAFTA, and flooding of their country with corn and other cheaper food, that drove people off their land and into the city for toxic low pay jobs. Is there responsibility of US corporations who advertise, and even provide bus service to supply works for everything from farming labor, or food processing plants , meat processing plants, ( Like Tyson ans Swanson) or large restaurants , bringing in cross border workers, large retailers like wall -mart hire “Coyote” to bring in cheep labor in construction and labor workers. Then make deals with ICE and Local police when immigrant workers try to organize or fight for better safe working conditions. Is it also true we hire immigrants to clean our houses, do our gardening, so we don’t have to pay Social Security , a living wage, health care, let the government do it…is this not the same work policy large retails use in not paying a living wage, let the workers get welfare put it on the state, and that’s OK?

I guess It’s all good until people begin to complain, or seek justice in wages , health care, in general to be treated like human beings………something not right here, who are the perpetrators of the law, it seams to me the US wants people we can exploit, but when they complain, have children its not enough we treat them as third class people we reserve the right to dis miss them when they have any needs of their own, and of course we reserve the right to throw them out if we don’t feel that they will keep their place and be subservient to us at no cost…I’m not sure that kind of thinking will hold up long…..the “let then eat cake” thinking gets people into trouble, it breeds up risings at the voting booth and time is not on the side of the of the oppressor where the disadvantage are growing in number and getting stronger.


avatar Lois April 21, 2012 at 9:22 pm

Martin: This is one of the best articles I have read so far. This is an important other view. Kind of ironic, huh, like the immigrants are getting their revenge for the wrongs that the U.S. has done to them. Greed is not just with the 1%. Consumerism is still rampant here in spite of the news that the economy is growing stronger. Yes, there is greed among the 99%. Still exploiting the illegals, under the table payoffs, etc. However, I strongly believe that the immigrants who want to be here earn it. Not demanding that it arbitrarily be given to them. This is a slap in the face to the people who have done it the “right way.”


avatar John P. Falchi April 20, 2012 at 12:33 pm

Thanks, Ernie, for sharing your thoughts on the immigration question. I find myself in agreement with your central thrust that we have a share of the responsibility for the dispossession of many of these people from their land. This fuels the current wave of immigration, tremendously. Our employers also, must bear responsibility for seeking low wage immigrant workers to help increase their profits. We need comprehensive immigration reform.


avatar Lois April 21, 2012 at 9:38 pm

Yea on that. Unfortunately, some of the people of the 99% who are “middle” and upper class” are guilty of the same thing. Greed does not just magically reside with the 1%. How many of them do you see doing the hard work of the protestors. There are the “middle class women of OSD” that do charitable things for the real protestors and maybe the homeless. But what I am curious about is why do they separate themselves from the Occupy movement by being sure that they are recognized as being “middle class.” You read a lot in the news about the fear of the middle class losing their grasp on their assets. What about all the other classes?


avatar Lois April 21, 2012 at 8:58 pm

Ernie: Your “little boys dream” takes me back to the time when I would travel to Tijuana and see the little children selling their chiclets. How sad not having a childhood. No political statement. Just a strong feeling of sadness coming over me.


avatar Ernie McCray April 21, 2012 at 11:55 pm

It is sad.


avatar JEC April 23, 2012 at 11:24 am

This Supreme Court is likely to affirm Arizona’s 1070 legislation. If they do so, which I believe they will, it will add more fractures to the United States of America by sharpening the divide between the states. The Hard right seems to forget the rule of inherent contradictions – nothing good comes from ill-intent; they will inherit only the wind. China smiles today.


avatar Ernie McCray April 23, 2012 at 11:31 am

It is a scary reality that the Supreme Court could very well affirm this ugliness and if it does I guess, at my age, I wouldn’t be around to see it turn around, the inheritance of “the wind.”


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