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Supreme Court SB1070 ruling — an issue that impacts all Americans

LatinaLista — Today was expected to be a big news day. All the cable news networks were waiting with bated commentary for the expected healthcare ruling by the Supreme Court. The financial cable news channels had lined up their experts to deliver immediate reaction the second the opinion was to be released.

Members of Promise Arizona, from left, Leonila Martinez, Patricia Rosas and Gustavo Cruz, react to the U.S. Supreme Court decision on Arizona’s controversial immigration law in Phoenix on Monday. (AP Photo)

But it didn’t happen. Maybe the Supreme Court thought it was enough news just to release their opinion on Arizona’s SB1070 immigration bill, along with, other lower profile rulings. However, given the speed some of the cable news networks dropped their coverage of the Supreme Court once it was clear that the healthcare ruling wouldn’t come until Thursday, sheds light on why laws like SB1070 have been allowed to flourish and pass in the country — most people don’t care if it doesn’t affect them directly.

And it’s true that SB1070 affects only particular people — or that’s the theory — but nobody realizes how it impacts everyone.

The Supreme Court issued an opinion that strikes three out of the four provisions that were debated before them a couple of months ago. Struck down were:

A provision authorizing police to arrest immigrants without warrant where “probable cause” exists that they committed any public offense making them removable from the country.

A section making it a state crime for “unauthorized immigrants” to fail to carry registration papers and other government identification.

A ban on those not authorized for employment in the United States to apply, solicit or perform work. That would include immigrants standing in a parking lot who “gesture or nod” their willingness to be employed

The one provision that the Supreme Court allowed — A requirement that local police officers check a person’s immigration status while enforcing other laws if “reasonable suspicion” exists that the person is in the United States illegally. — is considered the most harmful of all the provisions.

Because while the other provisions the Supreme Court supported does impact only undocumented immigrants, the last provision allowing police officers to check a person’s immigration status impacts everyone who looks or sounds Latino.

You’re right, if you’re thinking that’s racial profiling.

On a last minute press call with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and a couple of White House representatives hours after the Supreme Court ruling, it was made clear by the DHS that the department has issued in the past instructional guidelines to local law enforcement about checking a person’s immigration status during a traffic stop or other routine law enforcement procedures where they could question a person’s nativity.

But a casual GOOGLE search on racial profiling shows that the cases that have received the most notorious attention are when police officers don’t necessarily follow federal guidelines. However, there was one bright spot. DHS Sec. Janet Napolitano made it clear that today’s ruling doesn’t impact the memorandum to defer deportation to undocumented youth that was recently issued and declared “the right thing to do” by President Obama in a Rose Garden announcement.

But none of this changes the fact that not enough people care about the issue — not even Latino voters.

A new GALLUP/USA TODAY poll released this morning shows that U.S. Hispanics prioritize immigration, healthcare, and unemployment to equal degrees when asked about the importance of these issues. However, Hispanics who are registered voters are less concerned about immigration.

Like their fellow non-Latino Americans, Latino voters aren’t relating to the plight of the undocumented because it isn’t personal for them. If they don’t have family that is of mixed status or have friends and neighbors who are undocumented, the issue belongs to someone else.

Before we know it though, the issue will belong to us all when the impact of driving out immigrants from Arizona, Alabama, and other states with SB1070-like laws will be finally felt at the grocery store, roofing, construction, hotels, lawn care, etc. All those businesses that have given consumers affordable products/services performed in a timely manner. A shortage of workers means higher prices and less convenience that anything is done quickly.

Since the announcement of the opinion, rallies have been planned in cities across the country trying to bolster support in denouncing this one last provision. And it’s a safe bet that states, that have been waiting to pass their own version of SB1070, will now feel empowered to pass just enough legislation that allows for their police to check the immigration status of everyone whom they think is an undocumented immigrant.

The only hope is that, aside from wishful thinking that the provision will be overturned, that enough outrage can be expressed to not only attract attention to the potential harm this law does to the whole Latino community but that it makes people realize that this is an issue that impacts everyone — and not just a few.

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