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SB 1070 Amicus Brief

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Ms. CLARKE of New York. Mr. Speaker, on April 25, 2012, the United States Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in United States v. Arizona, a case that could determine whether, through the guise of immigration enforcement, states can once again legally sanction discriminatory practices. Sixty-eight Members of Congress, including myself, have filed a brief to inform the Supreme Court that we believe that Arizona, through SB 1070, has unconstitutionally stepped upon exclusively federal domain. I stand before you today to explain why many of the leading Members of this Chamber have decided to take a stand against this law.

Arizona's SB 1070, like other state laws inspired by SB 1070, opens the gates for legally sanctioned racial profiling. If allowed to go into effect, Arizonans who look or sound ``foreign'' could be asked for their papers at any given moment--and punished for failing to produce them. We don't want to become a country where an accent or a skin tone could make you a suspect.

Our Framers gave Congress exclusive domain over immigration policy. Immigration policy, like foreign policy, must remain in federal hands. They understood that the United States needed a single immigration policy, because a patchwork of 50 immigration laws would create a logistical nightmare for U.S. citizens and immigrants alike. A family from Brooklyn, for example, shouldn't have to bring passports to visit the Grand Canyon, but that's what would be needed if a law like SB 1070 were allowed to go into effect.

Our Constitution guarantees that all people--no matter where they were born or what color of skin--have the same basic rights. These rights cannot be allowed to be threatened by a law like SB 1070, which, if allowed to go into effect, would undoubtedly lead to irreparable violations of these constitutional rights for anyone who appears to be ``foreign.'' These ``show me your papers'' laws allow extremist legislators like those in Arizona and Alabama to turn back the clock on some of our hardest won and most important civil rights.

State-based immigration policy won't fix our federal immigration system. I call upon my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to put aside partisan rhetoric and work together on creating a federal immigration policy that puts our family, economy, and country first. We must create an immigration system that reflects our values and moves us forward together.

It is up to the Supreme Court to ensure that all Americans, no matter their appearance, are treated equally. Failing to preserve these constitutional protections would undermine our values of liberty and justice for all.

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