City joins brief against Arizona immigration law
The city of Baltimore has joined a friend-of-the-court brief urging a federal court in Arizona to block enforcement of that state’s controversial new immigration law, Baltimore Sun colleague Julie Scharper reports.
“The law passed in Arizona offends us and goes against everything that our great nation stands for,” Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said in a statement. “Our country has accepted and welcomed immigrants of all colors, nationalities, and ethnic backgrounds because that is what makes us great. Cities like Baltimore were built by generations of immigrants who thirsted for the freedom to build a prosperous life for themselves and their families. We cannot let fear tear down this country’s tradition of inclusion, liberty and justice.”
The city has joined San Francisco, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Seattle in the brief, which argues that Arizona Senate Bill 1070 is “unconstitutional, impractical, costly, and deeply damaging to the relationships of trust law enforcement agencies have built with immigrant communities,” according to a news release from Rawlings-Blake’s office.
“SB 1070 suggests, wrongly, that the enforcement of federal civil immigration law is the proper responsibility of local government officials, and that basic constitutional principles do not apply when those officials are investigating or enforcing immigration law,” the local governments argue. “That message will be heard not just in Arizona, but in every state in the country, making immigrants—whether they are naturalized citizens, lawful permanent residents, visa holders, or undocumented individuals—distrustful of local government and law enforcement officials.”
The brief was filed Wednesday in a lawsuit by activists who are asking the court to halt enforcement of the law before it goes into effect at the end of July.
Councilwoman Sharon Green Middleton introduced a City Council resolution last month criticizing the Arizona law.
Del. Pat McDonough of Harford County, who says he will introduce a bill modeled on the Arizona law in Annapolis next year, called Middleton’s resolution “useless and clueless.”
The city's participation in the amicus brief drew praise from the Baltimore Hispanic Commission.
“Baltimore has a rich immigrant history and a long tradition of upholding basic civil rights for all its people," commission Chairman Nicolas Ramos Sr. said. "By signing on to the brief, Mayor Rawlings Blake is not only standing up for immigrants in Arizona, Baltimore, and across the country, she is defending the basic civil rights of all Americans."