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'Papers Please’ Arizona Clause Alarms Advocates

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Supreme Court’s decision on Monday to upheld a clause of Arizona’s immigration law disappointed women’s groups who see it chilling legal services for victims of domestic violence.

Subhead: 
The Supreme Court’s decision on Monday to upheld a clause of Arizona’s immigration law disappointed women’s groups who see it chilling legal services for victims of domestic violence.








Immigrants rights activists rallied outside Supreme Court on April 25, 2012
Credit: Talk Radio News Service on Flickr, under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
 
 
(WOMENSENEWS)—Women’s advocates reacted angrily on Monday to the Supreme Court’s June 25 decision upholding a contentious clause of an Arizona immigration law.
 
“We were strongly hoping the entire law would be struck down, especially the ‘papers please’ law,” said Miriam Yeung, executive director of the National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum, an advocacy group with offices in New York and Washington.  
 
Yeung says the clause will inhibit women from reporting domestic violence and seeking essential services. “For them the message is still ‘if you are going to interact with any aspect of government that they may have to produce their papers,’ ” she said. 
 
The clause, which was unanimously upheld, allows police to check the immigration status of detained individuals. It is part of a law enacted in 2010--SB 1070--as a reaction to the increasing number of people without legal documentation in the state.
 
Other sections of the law were struck down, including warrant-less arrest of those believed to commit a deportable crime and criminalizing those without status to seek or hold employment.
 
Yeung said the overall decision does not provide relief from the intimidation immigrant women are feeling.
 
“We have talked to immigrant women on the ground. We know that police are setting up checkpoints and woman are talking about police stopped in front of school as they are bringing their kids to and from school.”
 
The National Coalition for Immigrant Women’s Rights, an umbrella advocacy group based in New York that included Yeung’s group, called the ruling a big setback because it provides guidance for similar laws enacted in Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, South Carolina and Utah.
 
This decision written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, does however, leave the clause open to legal challenge at a later date. 
 
The overall vote in Arizona v. United States was 5-3.
 
Sadiya Ansari is a Pakistani-Canadian freelance journalist, currently reporting from New York.