Wednesday, June 10, 2009

What bills the local ACLU is opposing

(in other words, bills you should support)

Tomorrow, Senate committee members will meet to vote on numerous bills that have far-reaching civil liberties implications. Please take action to prevent the passage of these two bills:

SB 1175 "Illegal Aliens; Enforcement; Trespassing"

This bill makes any non-citizen who has entered the United States without permission guilty of the state crime of trespassing. It also severely ties the hands of city and county police departments by requiring them to prioritize this issue above other public safety responsibilities. Such a proposal is particularly harmful at a time when Arizona's local governments are already making difficult choices about how to allocate the few resources they still have. Finally, the bill will clog the courts by creating a private right of action for any person to sue the state or city if they perceive that the agency is not enforcing immigration law "to the full extent permitted by federal law."

SB 1175 is bad for Arizona because:

  • Police departments that are currently enforcing immigration law through a contract with federal immigration authorities have already incurred costly litigation for violations of civil liberties.
  • This bill will siphon off more officer time away from other important crime-fighting duties without the benefit of a contract or proper training, and result in prolonged detentions of citizens and legal residents. A 256-page report by the Police Foundation recently concluded that the costs of local police enforcement of immigration outweigh the benefits and that police officers should be prohibited from detaining anyone to investigate immigration status where there has been no state criminal law violation.
  • Because the Constitution gives the federal government exclusive power to regulate our borders, with few exceptions, states are not free to create their own laws regulating immigration. A similar attempt to cloak local police with additional powers using a trespassing statute in New Hampshire was found to violate the Constitution.

The Public Safety and Human Services Committee will meet at
8:30 a.m. Wednesday, June 10, to hear SB 1175.

- Please contact these legislators ASAP -
(talking points embedded when you click the email links):

Manny Alvarez (D) (602) 926-5895

Linda Gray (R) (602) 926-3376

Leah Landrum Taylor (D) (602) 926-3830

Al Melvin (R) (602) 926-4326

Rebecca Rios (D) (602) 926-5685

Jay Tibshraeny (R) (602) 926-4481

Jim Waring (R) (602) 926-4916

SB 1393 "Public Education; Students' Religious Liberties"

This bill mandates that school officials allow public school students to wear all "religious symbols and messages."

SB 1393 is bad for Arizona because:

  • It carves out protections for only religious expression and speech. Favoring religious speech over other forms of expression is prohibited by both the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, as well as the establishment clause of the First Amendment. If a school allows religious words on one student's t-shirt, it cannot prohibit another student from wearing a t-shirt with other, non-religious messages (unless the messages are obscene or disruptive).
  • It serves as a mandate on school districts to pass local policies on the "voluntary expression of religious viewpoints," essentially forcing local schools to pass content-based regulations. This could cause schools to incur automatic legal liability.
  • It is not necessary and fails to address any particular problem. This is especially true considering the Constitution already protects students' ability to express their personal religious, political, philosophical, and other beliefs in classrooms and during school activities - consistent with policies supporting a free exchange of ideas and expressions.

The Education Accountability and Reform Committee will meet at
1:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 10, to hear SB 1393

- Please contact these legislators ASAP -
(talking points embedded when you click the email links):

Paula Aboud(D) (602) 926-5262

Sylvia Allen (R) (602) 926-5219

Linda Gray (R) (602) 926-3376

John Huppenthal (R) (602) 926-5261

Leah Landrum Taylor (D) (602) 926-3830

Linda Lopez (D) (602) 926-4089

Jonathan Paton (R) (602) 926-3235

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