Phoenix – Attorneys representing civil rights organizations on Monday presented their arguments against portions of Arizona's SB 1070 immigration law that prohibit day laborers from soliciting for work on the streets.
The law, which entered into force in July 2010, penalizes people who ask for work on the streets and also establishes sanctions for the people who hire them.
The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, or MALDEF, along with the American Civil Liberties Union, among other groups, asked the federal court in Phoenix to block those elements of the law.
"Judge Susan Bolton listened to our arguments and we hope in the coming months we'll have a decision," the ACLU of Arizona's executive director, Alessandra Soler Meetze, told Efe Monday.
The prohibitions are part of the sections of SB 1070 that were not blocked by Bolton pending a final resolution of the U.S. Justice Department's broader challenge to the state immigration law.
Victor Viramontes, a lawyer for MALDEF, told Efe that this portion of SB 1070 is not part of another suit against the law that will be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court this year.
Currently, the only sections of SB 1070 that are temporarily blocked are those that require state and local law enforcement agents to question the immigration status of people they suspect might be in the country illegally.
Viramontes said that last year an important victory was secured when the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals determined in another case that day laborers may solicit employment on the street in keeping with the protection provided for freedom of speech.
Since the new regulation entered into force in Arizona, day laborers may only ask for work at centers set up for that purpose or in churches that give them permission to do so.
Soler Meetze says that this type of law is unnecessary, since regulations already exist in the state governing this matter.
"This discriminates against the day laborer, who has the right to ask for work," she said.
She added that day laborers often pay a price for seeking to document any kind of abuse against them because when police arrest them or dislodge them from the spots where they are asking for work they do not explain that it is because they are enforcing SB 1070.
This creates a climate of discrimination, Soler Meetze emphasized, because not all day laborers are undocumented and they have the right to ask for work just like anybody else.
Mario Gonzalez, 38, for instance, lost his job in an assembly plant four years ago and since then he has asked for work on the streets of Phoenix.
"The police make your life very difficult. Any pretext is enough for them to arrest you and question you," he told Efe.