SB 1070

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Arizona Senate Bill 1070, or the "Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act" (commonly referred to as SB 1070), is a contentious Arizona law that requires local police to determine the immigration status of anyone who is arrested or detained when there is "reasonable suspicion" they are not in the United States legally.[1]

Law Details and Drafting

The law makes failure to carry immigration documents a crime and gives police broad power to detain anyone suspected of being in the country illegally. Opponents have called it an open invitation for harassment and discrimination against Hispanics regardless of their citizenship status.[2]

Despite strong objections and harsh criticism of the bill, including from President Barack Obama, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed SB 1070 into law in April 2010.[2]

The bill's main sponsor was Arizona State Senator Russell Pearce, although Pearce was not alone in his drafting of the bill, with help from the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). Pearce also collaborated with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the private prison industry, especially the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA).[3][4]


Involvement of ALEC, CCA, FAIR

Arizona State Senator, Russell Pearce, who was the main sponsor of SB 1070, is also a member of ALEC.[3] In December 2009 -- a full month before SB 1070 was introduced to the Arizona Senate and two months before it was introduced in the House -- Pearce formally submitted a version of his proposed legislation, the "No Sanctuary Cities for Illegal Immigrants Act" to ALEC's Public Safety and Elections Task Force, and it was adopted as "model legislation."[5] The Public Safety and Elections Task Force has since been disbanded, but at the time the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), a for-profit prison operator, was a member of the task force. CCA "had identified immigrant detention as a profit center important for its future growth."[3]

In addition to his collaboration with the CCA and ALEC in disseminating the law as a model bill throughout the country, Pearce had initially sought out Kris Kobach in his drafting of the law:[5]

"Kobach is . . . the 'national expert on constitutional law' at the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI), a subsidiary organization of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). IRLI and FAIR are both funded in part by the Pioneer Fund, an organization that unabashedly studies the 'science' of eugenics. Consequently, the Southern Poverty Law Center has designated both IRLI and FAIR 'nativist hate groups.'"[5]
About ALEC
ALEC is a corporate bill mill. It is not just a lobby or a front group; it is much more powerful than that. Through ALEC, corporations hand state legislators their wishlists to benefit their bottom line. Corporations fund almost all of ALEC's operations. They pay for a seat on ALEC task forces where corporate lobbyists and special interest reps vote with elected officials to approve “model” bills. Learn more at the Center for Media and Democracy's, and check out breaking news on our site.

Challenges to Legality

Arizona v. United States

The Obama administration sued to block the Arizona law soon after its enactment.[6] The United States Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against the state of Arizona to overturn the law, and initially federal courts had refused to let the four key provisions take effect.[7][6]

In June 2012, the United States Supreme Court struck down three major provisions of SB 1070: requiring all immigrants to obtain or carry immigration registration papers, making it a state criminal offense for an undocumented immigrant to seek work or hold a job, and allowing police to arrest suspected undocumented immigrants without warrants. The majority opinion stated that the provisions are preempted by federal law. The court did not throw out the provision requiring police to check the immigration status of someone they suspect is in the United States without documentation, the "show me your papers" requirement.[6]

Protests and Boycotts

In the week following the law's passage, over 2,000 people protested in Phoenix, with demonstrators citing potential civil rights abuses under the measure.[8]

Mexico also slammed the measure, saying it could strain cross-border relations and result in rights violations and racial profiling. Before the bill was signed into law, Mexico's Senate had unanimously passed a resolution urging Governor Jan Brewer to veto it.[8]

In addition to protests, many opponents of SB 1070 staged a boycott of Arizona. Days before Gov. Brewer signed the law, Rep. Raul Grijalva called for a boycott of his home state, warning, "If the state follows through with this, the cost will be high." In the month following the bill's passage, the state lost between $6 million and $10 million in projected business revenue from cancelled hotel bookings alone.[9]

Musicians and performers also joined in the boycott. A coalition of music groups, including Rage Against the Machine, Massive Attack, Kanye West, and Sonic Youth, organized a campaigned called Sound Strike, announcing its members would boycott all performances in Arizona to protest the tough new law. Other artists like PitBull, Wisin & Yandel, and Jenni Rivera also took action prior to the Sound Strike, canceling performances and skipping the state during planned tours.[10]

Resources and Articles

Related SourceWatch

External Articles


  1. American Civil Liberties Union, "Arizona's SB 1070," organizational bulletin, accessed June 2013.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Randal C. Archibold, "Arizona Enacts Stringent Law on Immigration," New York Times, April 23, 2010.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Brendan Fischer, "ALEC Disbands Task Force Responsible for Stand Your Ground, Voter ID, Prison Privatization, AZ's SB 1070,", April 17, 2012.
  4. Andrea Nill Sanchez, "The Group Behind The Harshest Immigration Bill In America," Think Progress, April 22, 2010.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Beau Hodai, "Brownskins and Greenbacks: ALEC, the For-Profit Prison Industry and Arizona’s SB 1070,", August 22, 2011.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Mark Sherman (Associated Press), "Supreme Court Issues Ruling On S.B. 1070," Huffington Post, June 25, 2012.
  7. "Feds sue to overturn Arizona immigration law," CNN, July 7, 2010.
  8. 8.0 8.1 "Thousands Protest Ariz. Immigration Law," CBSNews, April 24, 2010.
  9. Chris Good, "Arizona's Immigration Law Comes With a Price," The Atlantic, May 7, 2010.
  10. Larry Rohter, "Performers to Stay Away From Arizona in Protest of Law," New York Times, May 27, 2010.
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