Legal and Constitutional Issues


In reaction to Congress' failure to implement critical reforms to the U.S. immigration system, many states have taken it upon themselves to enact state-level immigration laws. Many of the state-level immigration enforcement laws have had profound consequences on the civil rights, local economy and atmosphere of civility in the states. These laws runs counter to AJC's longstanding position that immigration policies be fair and generous. As a vast overstep of police and state power, these laws promote and condone racial profiling, fear of police, and a growing distrust of government in immigrant communities. Many of these laws are currently being challenged in the courts. Arizona Senate Bill 1070 (S.B. 1070): In April 2010, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed into law S.B. 1070, legislation that requires, among other provision, police to investigate the immigration status of persons they stop if there is “reasonable suspicion” the person is in the country illegally. After challenged in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and Supreme Court, most of the provisions in the legislation were overturned. However, Section 2(B), popularly known as the “show me your papers” provision, was left standing. Section 2(B) requires police officers to check the immigration status of anyone whom they arrest or detain and allows them to stop and arrest someone if they believe that he is an undocumented immigrant. The Court relied heavily on the fact that Section 2(B) requires police officers to contact the federal government to verify an individual's immigration status. Citing language in the Arizona law that prohibits police officers from considering race or national origin, the Court held that the provision could at least go into effect for now. But it left open the possibility that opponents of the law could return to court to challenge it once it has been enforced and Arizona courts have a chance to interpret it. Alabama House Bill 56 (H.B. 56): In June 2012, the Alabama state legislature passed H.B. 56, a bill that requires, among other provisions, public schools to check students' immigration status, criminalizes giving an undocumented immigrant a ride, requires employers to use E-Verify to check potential employees' status, and instructs police to check the immigration status of anyone they stop if they suspect the person of being undocumented. This case is currently being litigated in the appellate courts. Birthright Citizenship: AJC strongly opposes any challenge to rescind or amend birthright citizenship through legislation or constitutional amendment as against legal precedent, public policy, and the essence and spirit of the 14th Amendment.
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