Legalizing racial profiling could mean apartheid for immigrants in Arizona

On November 6, 2013 Applied Research Center (ARC) was rebranded as Race Forward: The Center for Racial Justice Innovation. The content on this page was published on the ARC website prior to the rebrand.

04.27.2010 -- Media Contact: Debayani Kar 510.338.4917 or

April 27, 2010: Amid nationwide protest and presidential criticism, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed immigration bill SB 1070 into law on April 23. The Applied Research Center condemns the law as an attack on immigrants and communities of color already grappling with racial profiling and disproportionately high rates of arrest and incarceration, resulting in broken trust between law enforcement and our communities.

“SB 1070 exchanges the security of Arizona’s communities of color to buy false comfort for a state on the brink of economic collapse,” said Rinku Sen, executive director of Applied Research Center and coauthor of The Accidental American. “What about the right of communities of color to live without fear of random detention or their ability to report crimes without reprisal?”

Observers across the political spectrum have acknowledged that this bill will legalize racial profiling of Latinos and other communities of color by giving police license to stop anyone and ask for their papers under a vaguely defined “suspicion” of undocumented status. Governor Brewer claimed not to know what an undocumented immigrant looks like, but in Maricopa County, AZ, Sheriff Joe Arpaio has a long-documented history of terrorizing Latinos under the guise of immigration enforcement.

President Obama has rightly characterized SB 1070 as “misguided” and threatening to “undermine basic notions of fairness.” But his administration has yet to develop serious policy proposals to overhaul the flawed federal immigration enforcement system that snares Latinos and other communities of color across the U.S. For example, the Administration continues to carry out ICE raids, even amid the Census count, a move guaranteed to tamp down participation among immigrants and people of color.

Policies like SB 1070 which clearly have disproportionate adverse impacts on people of color are emblematic of institutional racism. The Administration must take a step back from a problematic policy framework, starting with taking seriously the government’s own documents and reports highlighting the ways in which immigrants face discriminatory raids, unjust detentions and deportation quotas. What should not be lost in the SB 1070 outcry is that Arizona is taking existing federal immigration policy to its logical conclusion.

To learn more and take action:
•    Join this weekend’s May 1st rallies across the U.S.
•    Participate in the Shame on Arizona campaign
•    Learn more about SB 1070