Yesterday, the Supreme Court issued its ruling in the Obama administration's challenge to Arizona's immigration law, S.B. 1070, holding that three of the four provisions at issue were preempted by federal law and that the final provision -- the "show your papers" provision -- was not preempted by federal law but would need to be carefully implemented by the state in order to avoid being found unconstitutional in the future.
Yesterday's ruling sparked a strong statement from more than 30 LGBT and HIV/AIDS organizations noting specific challenges faced by LGBT immigrants, calling the remaining provision "clearly discriminatory" and calling for Congress to pass "a path to legalization for the nation's undocumented immigrants."
For his part, President Obama said that he is "pleased that the Supreme Court has struck down key provisions of Arizona’s immigration law." Of the remaining provision, he said, "I remain concerned about the practical impact of the remaining provision of the Arizona law that requires local law enforcement officials to check the immigration status of anyone they even suspect to be here illegally. I agree with the Court that individuals cannot be detained solely to verify their immigration status. No American should ever live under a cloud of suspicion just because of what they look like."
Obama's presidential challenger, Mitt Romney, said in a statement, "Today's decision underscores the need for a President who will lead on this critical issue and work in a bipartisan fashion to pursue a national immigration strategy," adding that he viewed Obama as having failed to do so. Romney did not address whether he agreed or disagreed with any parts of the decision.
The joint statement by dozens of organizations that work on LGBT and HIV/AIDS issues, led by the Center for American Progress and Lambda Legal, and including the Human Rights Campaign and National Gay & Lesbian Task Force, drew on the organizations' specific focus while also advocating for wholesale immigration reform.
"The 'show-me-your-papers' provision in SB 1070 is clearly discriminatory but unfortunately was not struck down. LGBT immigrants and LGBT people of color remain particularly vulnerable because this provision in SB 1070 requires police to stop and question people based on their appearance. The LGBT community knows all too well how easily people who are perceived to 'look different' or 'act different' can be singled out for harassment and persecution," they state. "The law particularly threatens LGBT people of color and LGBT immigrants, many of whom already experience heightened hostility, harassment, and even violence based on their appearance, behavior, dress, and other characteristics. This wrongful treatment often occurs at the hands of local officials who lack a basic understanding of sexual orientation and gender identity and expression diversity."
Of the broader picture of America's immigration policy, they note, "SB 1070, and the copycat laws it has spawned in other states, exacerbate the fear and distrust that dissuade many LGBT immigrants and LGBT people of color from seeking protection from -- or offering to assist -- law-enforcement officials.