Legal Momentum Joins the Court Battle to Overturn Arizona’s Immigration Law

Legal Momentum Joins the Court Battle to Overturn Arizona’s Immigration Law

Date: 
June 28, 2010

Immigrant Women Program Files Amicus Curiae Brief Outlining Harmful Effects on Immigrant Women and Children

Washington DC (June 28, 2010) - Legal Momentum's Immigrant Women Program, in conjunction with Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP, has filed an amicus curiae brief in support of a lawsuit filed in Arizona federal court to block implementation of Arizona's notorious immigration law, Senate Bill 1070 (S.B. 1070). The lawsuit, Friendly House v. Whiting, was brought by the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union), MALDEF (the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund), the National Immigration Law Center and the Asian Pacific American Legal Resource Center. Legal Momentum’s brief outlines key areas where Arizona’s new law undermines federal civil rights protections for immigrant women and their families, including those who are victims of violent crime.

S.B. 1070 Threatens the Health and Safety of Immigrant Women and Children

Arizona’s law eviscerates decades of humanitarian initiatives enacted by Congress to protect the health and safety of all people living in the United States, regardless of legal status.

  • S.B. 1070 puts immigrant women and their children are risk of being detained or arrested any time they leave their homes. Medical treatment or emergency shelter, including federally-funded benefits deemed necessary to life and safety will become inaccessible to immigrant families fearful of seeking aid.  These necessary services include: Emergency Medicaid for immigrant women and children, shelters and transitional housing, and community-funded health clinics offering preventative cancer screening other urgently needed health care services such as pre- and post-natal care, cervical cancer screening and for the treatment of children.
  • Arizona’s children will suffer because their mothers will be targeted by local law enforcement while performing day-to-day activities. Without required documents mothers risk falling prey to arrest by law enforcement staking out schools, churches, child care centers, and are at risk any time they, run errands necessary to their families survival, or encourage the child to participate in developmentally important social activities.

S.B. 1070 Increases the Risk Immigrant Mothers Will Be Separated From Their Children

Arizona’s law eviscerates decades of humanitarian initiatives enacted by Congress to protect the health and safety of all people living in the United States, regardless of legal status.

  • S.B. 1070 puts immigrant women and their children are risk of being detained or arrested any time they leave their homes. Medical treatment or emergency shelter, including federally-funded benefits deemed necessary to life and safety will become inaccessible to immigrant families fearful of seeking aid.  These necessary services include: Emergency Medicaid for immigrant women and children, shelters and transitional housing, and community-funded health clinics offering preventative cancer screening other urgently needed health care services such as pre- and post-natal care, cervical cancer screening and for the treatment of children.
  • Arizona’s children will suffer because their mothers will be targeted by local law enforcement while performing day-to-day activities. Without required documents mothers risk falling prey to arrest by law enforcement staking out schools, churches, child care centers, and are at risk any time they, run errands necessary to their families survival, or encourage the child to participate in developmentally important social activities.

S.B. 1070 Punishes Immigrant Victims of Violence

Arizona’s law also further victimizes immigrant women who have suffered domestic abuse, sexual assault, human trafficking and other often violent crimes by severely hindering their ability safely to report the crimes or to seek help without risking detention or deportation for the new Arizona crime of failure to have specified immigration documents.

  • Arizona law enforcement officials are free to stake out “sensitive locations” such as rape crisis centers and domestic violence shelters, while federal immigration officials are strongly cautioned against these inhumane tactics. Because of this, immigrant women may be unwilling to access these relief services.
  • S.B. 1070 will further discourage the immigrant crime victims who may otherwise find the courage to come forward and report abuse by family member, employers, traffickers, sexual assault perpetrators and other criminals. Fewer than 20 percent of battered immigrant women who are undocumented or who have temporary legal status seek help from law enforcement, compared to more than half of battered women generally. These numbers will plummet even further in light of S.B. 1070, as victims fear that they will be seen as criminals by law enforcement coming to their aid.
  • Arizona S.B. 1070 deters immigrant victims from reporting crimes out of fear that they will be deported, even though Congress has enacted a number of laws to encourage immigrant victims to seek help from law enforcement. These laws include the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA), which allow victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, crime and human trafficking to lawfully remain in the U.S. if they cooperate with the prosecution.
  • Lawful immigrant victims may be detained, separated from their children, or deported because untrained local law enforcement are unfamiliar with forms of documentation immigrant victims protected by VAWA and TVPA hold as proof of lawful status. VAWA and TVPA protected immigrants experience an administrative delay of up to 7 years between the time they are granted permission to stay and when they receive their widely-recognized formal documents.

Legal Momentum has received an overwhelming outpouring of support for this brief from 83 national, state and local organizations focused on civil rights, women’s rights, labor and immigrant’s rights. These organizations include: Young Women’s Christian Association USA (YWCA), Southern Poverty Law Center, National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW), and the Coalition of Labor Union Women. Additionally, the Mexican consulate in Arizona has translated the brief to Spanish.

Full versions of the Arizona amicus curiae brief (as lodged) and the Arizona amicus curiae motion (as filed)

About Legal Momentum

Legal Momentum is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in 1970 to advance the rights of women by using the power of the law and creating innovative public policy in three broad areas: economic justice, freedom from gender-based violence and equality under the law. For more information visit www.legalmomentum.org.

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