Asian Americans Advancing Justice - LA

Building upon the legacy of the Asian Pacific American Legal Center

APALC Files Amicus Brief in Challenge to Arizona Anti-Immigrant Law S.B. 1070

The United States Supreme Court recently heard arguments from the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ) legal challenge to Arizona’s sweeping anti-immigrant law S.B. 1070, which requires state and local law enforcement officers to detain and investigate residents based on the suspicion that they are undocumented.  It also purports to authorize state and local law enforcement officers to make warrantless arrests for alleged violations of immigration laws independent of federal authority to do so.    

As the DOJ’s case has wound its way through the appellate courts, APALC has joined its civil rights partners in filing amicus briefs in support of the DOJ, urging the Ninth Circuit and most recently the Supreme Court of the United States to find that S.B. 1070 is unconstitutional because it violates the U.S. Constitution’s supremacy clause.  At oral argument, the DOJ argued that states cannot create their own immigration laws and make unilateral decisions about enforcement of existing immigration laws because under the U.S. Constitution the federal government has exclusive power and authority over immigration matters.

After S.B. 1070 was signed into law in April 2010, APALC joined a broad coalition of civil rights groups that filed Friendly House v. Whiting, a class action lawsuit challenging S.B. 1070 on behalf of individuals and organizations that are directly harmed by the law.  The Friendly House action is currently pending in Arizona district court and raises equal protection claims and other constitutional and civil rights violations that are not involved in the DOJ case. 

“APALC is part of the civil rights challenge to S.B. 1070 because the law would result in widespread discrimination and harm to all of our communities, including Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, Latinos and other communities of color,” said Yungsuhn Park, senior staff attorney at APALC.

S.B. 1070 has already subjected Asian Americans and other racial minorities to discrimination and racial profiling.  For example, Friendly House plaintiff Jim Shee, a U.S. citizen of Spanish and Chinese descent, was stopped twice by local law enforcement and asked to produce his identification documents in April 2010, when the Arizona law was passed.

“I’m part of this lawsuit because racial profiling is wrong and I don’t think that people should be targeted, pulled over and questioned because of the color of their skin,” said Shee, a lifelong resident of Arizona.

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