The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Monday that a provision of Arizona’s controversial immigration law Senate Bill 1070 addressing the hiring of day laborers is unconstitutional because it infringes on their First Amendment rights.
The provision would have made it illegal for employers to pick up day laborers from the road. Both the laborers and the employers would be breaking the law.
Although Arizona Republicans who proposed SB 1070 attributed the provision to concerns regarding traffic safety, the court ruled that the way day laborers are specifically addressed violates their right to assembly.
Carlos Vélez-Ibáñez, a professor at the ASU School of Transborder Studies, said proponents of SB 1070 intended to use fear to force undocumented populations to leave.
“The underlying strategy is to create such a fear among undocumented workers and illegal immigrants so they would want to leave,” he said. “It’s part of the fear factor they’ve developed.”
Vélez-Ibáñez said the growing demographic of Latino voters is a danger to the Republican Party and that to prevent a loss of influence, Republican politicians are pushing strict immigration policies. He said a day laborer program was instituted by the city of Phoenix to localize and secure a potentially dangerous type of work, but the program was pushed aside when SB 1070 was passed in Arizona.
“Once you start down the road of stopping people assembling, where do you stop?” Vélez-Ibáñez said.
Political science senior Alexa Harrison, the president of Young Americans for Freedom at ASU, said she trusts the motives of day laborers.
“Those people are here to work,” she said. “They are desperate for money, so that they can provide for their families, and I don’t feel that a major concern should be fear that they would harm those who pick them up.”
However, Harrison said the use of day laborers negatively impacts American workers.
“Every time you hire a day laborer over a legitimate business in America, that business loses potential revenue,” Harrison said.
Harrison said illegal immigrants and undocumented workers do not have the right to work in the U.S. because they are not citizens, thus the Supreme Court ruling would not apply to them.
“Though illegal immigrants want to provide for their families, they do not have the right to do so in America,” he said.
Second year psychology doctoral student German Cadeñas, one of the founders of the Arizona DREAM Act Coalition, said all people have the right to work and Arizona politicians are using racism to take that right away.
“SB 1070 is an example of institutionalized racism, and there is no place for that type of oppression in today’s America in today’s Arizona. We are seeing that SB 1070 is disappearing little by little,” Cadeñas said. “Denying a segment of our population the right to work perpetuates poverty, and it affects us all.”
Employment laws in Arizona forbid companies from hiring undocumented workers and working as a day laborer is one of their only remaining options. Cadeñas said the demand for day laborers is evidence of their value to the Arizona economy.
“Picking someone up from the side of the road is a choice that the person picking up the worker makes on their own,” Cadeñas said. “It would be a step forward in AZ to embrace the reality that day laborers are needed, and perhaps recommend best practices for Arizonans who pick up day laborers.”
Reach the reporter at email@example.com or follow him @jthrall1