The Supreme Court decision gave us no reason to celebrate in Arizona. The ruling allowed the most dangerous piece of SB1070, the racial profiling portion to move forward, and as a result, life is worse for our communities in Arizona than it was previously. But it won’t stay that way for long.
This ruling was not our communities’ day in court. That day is yet to come. Migrant communities are on the winning side of history and will see SB1070 and the federal deportation programs it mirrors struck down in their entirety.
The reaction of migrant communities and our allies will be to organize, fight back, and come out of the shadows, to peacefully defend our communities in the boldest ways. President Obama and Secretary Napolitano have the authority and the obligation to follow our example and take equally swift action. A justice department hotline is not enough. Ending a small part of the 287(g) program in the state has little effect. We will not be fooled and affirm that nothing short of cutting off Arizona’s access to ICE completely will prevent the humanitarian crisis we already live in from jumping to new levels.
But the dilemma of how to respond to SB1070 is for more than just the president. As migrants lose fear and are willing to face down the checkpoints meant to drive us out, what risk are others who believe in justice willing to take? There is no such thing as a bystander in a county where Arpaio gets one more tool to terrorize our communities.
The biggest irony of the “immigration debate” is that this land called Arizona used to be Mexico and before that was and is native land. SB1070 is morally wrong for many reasons, but the bill becomes illogical when we notice that people attempting to expel and call ‘illegal’ those of us whose ancestors predate them on this land.
Since SB1070 was introduced the name “Arizona” has symbolized the “capitol of prejudice.” The Supreme Court ruling has now placed that same embarrassment on the United States as a whole. However, a state now known today for its bigotry will be known as the birthplace of a modern thriving human rights movement tomorrow. And it will have reasonably suspicious people to thank. When we receive this state’s gratitude instead of its hostility, that’s when we’ll celebrate.