Federal Court Blocks Part of Arizona's Anti-Immigrant Law; Allows 'Show Me Your Papers' Provision to Stand For Now

Civil Rights Coalition Will Continue to Fight Against Racial Profiling Law

PHOENIX, AZ – A federal district court today blocked a provision in Arizona's anti-immigrant law that aimed to criminalize friends and family members who engage in everyday activities with undocumented immigrants, but failed to block section 2B of SB 1070, which forces police officers to demand "papers" of those they believe are in the country unlawfully. Civil rights groups challenging SB 1070 contend that section 2B encourages racial profiling, mandates illegal detention, and betrays American values.

"Any implementation of Section 2(B) will inevitably subject people in Arizona to widespread racial profiling and undermine the safety of Arizona’s neighborhoods by hindering local law enforcement," said Victor Viramontes, MALDEF National Senior Counsel. "We will take every action to minimize these harms to the people of Arizona that are the result of this deeply flawed law."

The "show me your papers" section of the law will not take effect until further order from the court, which will not happen immediately. The provision blocked today by the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona aimed to create criminal penalties for individuals who drive or live with an immigrant who lacks authorization to live in the country. Similar provisions found in anti-immigrant laws in Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina have been blocked by courts at the district and appellate levels.

"Today's ruling will lead to rampant racial profiling of Latinos and others who might be 'suspected' of being in Arizona without authorization. This isn't just a blow to our plaintiffs, but also a step back from our core values of equality under the law. We are committed to continuing the fight against this law in our case until it is permanently stuck down," said Linton Joaquin, general counsel of the National Immigration Law Center.

The decision is the latest legal move in Valle del Sol v. Whiting, a class action legal challenge to SB 1070 that was filed in May 2010. This challenge, which was brought by a coalition of civil rights organizations, includes civil rights claims against Arizona's racial profiling law that were not raised in the U.S. Supreme Court case over SB 1070 brought by the federal government. Plaintiffs include Jim Shee, an Arizona-born citizen of Spanish and Chinese descent who was racially profiled. "While today's ruling puts civil rights at risk, it does nothing to undermine our resolve to continue fighting until SB 1070 is struck down in its entirety," said Chris Newman, legal director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network.

The coalition includes the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the ACLU of Arizona, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF); National Immigration Law Center (NILC); the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON); Asian Pacific American Legal Center (APALC); Asian American Justice Center (AAJC), both members of the Asian American Center for Advancing Justice; and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Law firms Roush McCracken Guerrero and Miller and Ortega, as well as Munger, Tolles and Olson and Altshuler Berzon LLP also provided support.

Founded in 1968, MALDEF is the nation's leading Latino legal civil rights organization. Often described as the "law firm of the Latino community," MALDEF promotes social change through advocacy, communications, community education, and litigation in the areas of education, employment, immigrant rights, and political access. For more information on MALDEF, please visit:

Copyright 2009 MALDEF — Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund