NCC, CWS: Racial Profiling Concerns Remain After Supreme Court Immigration Ruling

(Photo: Photo: Jen Smyers/Church World Service)Faith leaders conduct a vigil outside the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington D.C. ahead of a decision on Arizona's SB 1070 immigration law.

The National Council of Churches and Church World Service said on Monday concerns about racial profiling in Arizona remained even after the Supreme Court struck down key elements of Arizona's controversial immigration law.

A section of Arizona's SB 1070 states that police who have made a lawful stop, detention or arrest must check the immigration status of a person "where reasonable suspicion exists that the person is an alien and is unlawfully present in the United States."

"Today the U.S. Supreme Court got it right when it struck down key elements of Arizona's SB 1070, a law we contend is not only unconstitutional but also immoral,'" wrote John McCullough, CEO of Church World Service. "However, by failing to reject the law's racial profiling provision, the Court has unfortunately left the question of racial profiling to another day, and thus prolonged civil and human rights abuses in Arizona."

"We pray that this racial profiling section will have the same fate as the other sections of SB 1070 – that it will be struck down in future legal battles," he said.

NCC President Kathryn M. Lohre issued a statement saying the church group "strongly affirmed" McCullough's concerns.

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer said Monday's ruling upheld the "heart" of the law and will be implemented and enforced "in an even-handed manner."

"Law enforcement will be held accountable should this statute be misused in a fashion that violates an individual's civil rights," she said.

"Racial profiling will not be tolerated," she said

The 5-3 ruling said the Arizona law interfered with federal authority to enforce immigration laws, rejected an element that made it a crime for an undocumented immigrant to seek work, and also struck down a clause that allowed police to arrest suspects without warrants.

McCollough says abuses are already occurring and community trust has been eroded.

He said people should not be afraid to report crimes, and questioned if the writers of the U.S. Constitution envisioned a country where children live in fear that their parents would be detained or reported when they come home from school.
He said citizens and lawful permanent residents have been kept in police custody until a friend or relative could bring status documentation.

"Without clarity from the Supreme Court on this racial profiling provision – these abuses of civil and human rights will continue," McCullough said.

He also cited Arizona's economic losses from lost tourism and conventions revenue.

McCullough said the court's decision to strike down most of the law's provisions "sent a strong warning to stats considering such laws that they are contrary to this nation's values."

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