Proud of opposing SB 1070
Monday's Supreme Court ruling in Arizona v. United States represents a stinging defeat for the supporters of SB 1070 and other punitive, backward immigration laws. As I've been saying for years, a patchwork of 50 conflicting state immigration laws is not sustainable and not constitutional. So what now?
First, let's talk about how we got here. It's been a long and difficult three years for Arizona and much of the rest of the country. The shock of SB 1070's initial passage disrupted millions of lives, and copycat laws have disrupted millions more. Those laws have meant unnecessary division, fear and economic pain for families and communities across the nation.
From the very beginning, I wasn't shy about saying SB 1070 was unconstitutional and discriminatory. On April 29, 2010 — while the political world tried to recalibrate after the law was passed — Rep. Ed Pastor and I wrote to President Obama urging the Department of Justice to bring suit against the law. I believed that was the right decision every day until the ruling.
Conservatives who were riding high on Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's rhetoric and State Sen. Russell Pearce's heavy-handed leadership predicted a sweeping legal victory and called SB 1070 a model for the country. They were wrong. Russell Pearce is gone from the State Senate and this law is now a ghost of itself.
To those responsible for this law and all its tragic consequences, and to many others who preferred not to take a stand, I've been a convenient target. They've tried to convince the public that by sticking up for equal rights and the Constitution, I've stood in the way. They said that by choosing the right way instead of the easy way, I was hurting the state.
Their message — Gov. Jan Brewer's message, Joe Arpaio's message — is sounding more hollow by the minute. They should apologize to the state and the country for the damage they've done.
I am not sorry for opposing SB 1070, and I never will be. I do not apologize for choosing the law and the Constitution over division and fear. I will resist any effort to legislate discrimination in this country, no matter who starts it or what it looks like. I am proud to call myself an early, dedicated opponent of this extremist law. When I look at the good people I stand with and the people who stand against us, I'm prouder than ever to call myself an opponent of SB 1070.
Although the Supreme Court did not strike down the most toxic section of SB 1070 — the one that allows police officers to check an individual's immigration status based solely on suspicion — the majority made clear that its application may raise serious constitutional questions. I share the majority's concerns, and I support the lawsuits moving through the court system that will test this question in short order.
We're finally starting the conversation we always should have been having — a conversation about coming together as a country, about building communities instead of tearing them apart, about cooperating instead of discriminating. With your help and a lot of hard work to come, we're going to close this dark chapter in our history. I'm proud to be a part of it. I hope you'll join us.
Raul Grijalva represents Yuma County in the U.S. House of Representatives.