|Date(s):||April 23, 2010 to June 25, 2012|
|Tag(s):||Arizona, Discrimination, SB 1070, Hispanic Americans, Latino Americans, Racial Profiling, Legal History, Arizona v United States, Latino American Studies|
|Course:||“Incarceration in the US,” Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis|
|Rating:||5 (2 votes)|
On April 23, 2010, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed Senate Bill 1070 (SB 1070) also known as the “Support our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Acts” into law. Supporters wanted security, while opponents saw a bill which enabled law enforcement to participate in legalized racial profiling. SB 1070 sought to establish an official state policy of “attrition through enforcement.” The wording of the bill indicated that Arizona sought to establish an overarching carceral state in which criminality was constructed around ethnic identity. Their solution was strict enforcement by any means. Enforcement was predicated on the ability for law enforcement officers to “…without a warrant… arrest a person if the officer has probable cause to believe…[the person] has committed any public offense that makes [them] removable from the United States.” Larry Dever, Sheriff of Cochise County Arizona, vocalized pleasure with SB 1070 and stated, “Well, we’ve been doing that down here [border enforcement] for 36 years.” Sheriff Dever’s statement illustrates the participation of law enforcement in racial profiling long before SB 1070.
In 2008 the Arizona District Court heard the case of Manuel de Jesus Ortega Melendres, a Mexican national on vacation in the United States, in Ortega Melendres, et al. v. Arpaio. The court found that Melendres and others had been victims of racial profiling, when the van he was traveling in, driven by a white driver, was pulled over by the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Department (MCSD). Melendres was detained for over nine hours even though provided adequate identification. The case decided that the MCSD had participated in a systematic practice of racial profiling.
A long history of anti-Hispanic sentiment has been present in the politics of the United States. In 1902, Indiana senator Albert Beveridge opposed a bill which proposed statehood for multiple Southwestern territories. Beveridge’s rationale was among Hispanic Americans, “…education, moral, and other elements of citizenship are unfavorable.” During the Great Depression, people of Hispanic descent were blamed for many of the economic troubles which hit the Southwest. The United States responded by enacting the Immigration Act of 1929 which made entering the United State without a visa an unlawful felony. The Immigration Act insinuated that people of Hispanic descent were to be associated with a degree of criminality because of the idea of unlawful entry.
Before the controversial bill was to be enacted, the United States Supreme Court found SB 1070 unconstitutional. In the Opinion of the Court, Justice Kennedy cited INS v. Lopez-Mendoza which established the legal precedent that it is not a crime for a removable alien to remain present in the United States. SB 1070 violated this statute and established a new precedent that police can stop someone, “…based on nothing more than possible removability” which violates the previous decision of the court. In a sobering statistic, roughly half of Mexican Americans have reported some form of racial discrimination throughout their life. There is an undeniable thread of institutionalized discrimination against Latino Americans which has persisted throughout the twentieth century.
 Russell Pearce, “Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhood Act,” Pub. L. No. 1070, § 41-906 (2010).
"Arizona Ranchers, Lawmen React To Court's SB 1070 Decision." Fronteras Desk. Accessed March 31, 2017. http://www.fronterasdesk.org/news/2012/jun/26/arizona-ranchers-lawmen-react-courts-sb-1070-decis/.
 Ortega Melendres, et. al v. Arpaio, et al., No. CV07–02513–PHX–MHM (April 24, 2013).
 Zaragosa Vargas, Crucible of Struggle: A History of Mexican Americans from Colonial Times to the Present (New York, New York: Oxford University Press, 2011).
 Ramiro Martinez, “Revisiting the Role of Latinos and Immigrants in Police Research,” in Race, Ethnicity, and Policing: New and Essential Readings (New York: New York University Press, 2010).
 Arizona et. al v. United States 567 U.S. 27 (2012).
 Jeff Jones and Lydia Saad, “Gallup Poll Social Series: Minority Rights & Relations,” (Gallup, July 15, 2015), http://www.gallup.com/poll/184769/immigrant-status-tied-discrimination-among-hispanics.aspx .