Representatives of groups supporting the rights of Latinos in Arkansas came together today for a 2 p.m. press conference in the State Capitol rotunda to respond to the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to strike down key provisions of Arizona's immigration law.
After brief remarks by Steve Copley of the Arkansas Interfaith Alliance, Holly Dickson, staff attorney for ACLU Arkansas, said that today's Supreme Court ruling — which she called three red lights and a "yellow light" on the "show me your papers" aspect of the Arizona law — supports the American ideal of speaking with one voice, with decisions on civil rights made by "one government, not 50-plus." Laws like the one in Arizona, Dickson said, create an atmosphere of distrust, and overtax already overburdened law enforcement agencies. While Dickson said the court "punted" on the provision forcing those stopped by police to prove their citizenship, she said that provision is sure to get closer scrutiny from the courts in coming years. "What we do know," Dickson said, "is that microscope that is already on Arizona and several other states is going to tighten in."
Alan Leveritt, publisher of the Arkansas Times and the Spanish-language newspaper El Latino, also spoke at the event, saying that anti-immigrant laws like those in Alabama and Arizona are "profoundly anti-business," and create a poisonous climate for all workers. "These laws do nothing but harass and drive people away," Leveritt said.
— David Koon