Several Hispanic and pro-civil rights leaders on Wednesday urged that alternatives be sought for Arizona's SB 1070 immigration law in the face of the Supreme Court decision to consider one of its most controversial elements constitutional.
In their June 25 ruling, the justices nullified Sections 3, 5 and 6 of SB 1070, but left the thorniest element intact: namely, the one that requires police to verify the immigration status of anyone they arrest or detain for other infractions if they have a "reasonable suspicion" that they might be undocumented.
Opponents of Arizona's approach want to promote measures such as that approved recently by the California Senate which obligates local police to report to the federal authorities about only those immigrants they have arrested for serious crimes.
In addition to California, there are other places around the country where local leaders are starting to look for alternatives after the high court's ruling, including the District of Columbia and Cook County, Illinois.
Bill 19-585, approved on Tuesday by the Washington city council, limits to 24 hours the amount of time District authorities will hold someone on a civil detainer request from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, except in cases where the individual has been convicted of a violent offense.
Officials in Cook County, which includes Chicago, decided last year to stop honoring ICE detainers in most instances.
"The Sheriff of Cook County was detaining people who were in custody for small infractions of the law, namely traffic related matters ... resulting in placing them in deportation, causing pain and suffering to many families," Cook County Commissioner Jesus Garcia said in a conference call organized by the Fair Immigration Reform Movement.
"The practice was resulting in an increase in racial profiling in the County," Garcia added.
California Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, sponsor of AB 1081, known as the TRUST Act, said that the experience in his state had been "very successful" and emphasized that there has been no backsliding thanks to citizens' awareness.
The leaders asked local lawmakers to take the initiative in changing course in the face of an immigration model that does not work.
Immigrants rights advocates, concerned about the precedent the Supreme Court decision sets and the lack of immigration reform at the federal level, are now opting to promote this type of state and municipal legislation which will require significant efforts to implement.
Ammiano also announced during the conference the launching of the Restoring Trust Together Web site.