SIMN and CMS Press Release on Arizona v. United States

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Press Release
Contact: Rachel Reyes
rreyes@cmsny.org; 212.337.3080
Released, June 26, 2012

Center for Migration Studies and Scalabrini International Migration Network Urge Congressional Action in Light of the Supreme Court’s Decision in Arizona v. United States

The Center for Migration Studies of New York (CMS) and the Scalabrini International Migration Network (SIMN) expressed the need today for Congressional action to reform US immigration law and policy.

Yesterday, the US Supreme Court in Arizona v. United States struck down three provisions of Arizona’s “attrition through enforcement” immigration law (SB 1070) on the grounds that they are “pre-empted” by federal law. In a 5 to 3 ruling, the Court overturned provisions that would have: criminalized failure to comply with alien registration requirements; made it a state crime for unauthorized persons to work, and; allowed police to conduct warrantless arrests of persons that they had probable cause to believe had committed offenses that made them “removable.”  The Court upheld a provision of the law that allows police to verify the status of persons that they stop, detain or arrest based on “reasonable suspicion” that such persons lack immigration status. However, the Court left open the possibility that if this provision leads to racial profiling or prolonged detention, it too will be deemed unconstitutional.

The Court’s decision comes in the wake of the Obama administration’s June 15th announcement that it will exercise prosecutorial discretion not to remove the so-called “DREAMers,” young people raised in the United States who lack legal status.

Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of the Diocese of Brooklyn, Chairman of CMS’s board of trustees, said that laws like SB 1070 “deny core rights as a means to an end and pose an existential threat to immigrants, families and communities.” He continued: “These laws also offend Catholic teaching on human dignity, the sanctity of life, and religious liberty.”  In an amicus brief in the Arizona case, the US bishops argued that the Arizona law would criminalize acts of charity and threaten religious institutions whose mission requires that they care for immigrants without reference to their immigration status.  The Court’s decision, said DiMarzio, “highlights the need for Congressional action on immigration reform on a federal level, as opposed to immigration policy on a state level.”

Fr. Leonir Chiarello, SIMN’s Executive Director, described the “deferred action” announcement as a “short-term fix for a particularly worthy group of young people.”  He said, however, that “a temporary reprieve from removal for one group does not address the broader need for reform of US immigration laws, including a path to permanent legal status for a large percentage of the nation’s unauthorized immigrants.”

CMS is a New York-based educational institute devoted to the study of migration, to the promotion of understanding between immigrants and receiving communities, and to public policies that safeguard the dignity and rights of migrants, refugees and newcomers. CMS was established in 1969 by the Congregation of the Missionaries of St. Charles, Scalabrinians. SIMN supports and coordinates Scalabrinian programs for migrants.  Its network consists of more than 270 organizations involved in  migration-related activities and services throughout the world.