Statement of ABA President Lamm Re: Recently Enacted Arizona Immigration Law
The recently signed immigration law in Arizona runs contrary to the fundamental tenets of our Constitution relative to equal protection and due process. This draconian, and likely unconstitutional, law threatens to reverse nearly 50 years of civil rights advancements in our nation. It is, quite simply put, a law based on prejudice and fear, one whose purpose is to be divisive.
This law encourages second-class treatment of individuals based on the color of their skin, and that is unacceptable. The American Bar Association has long opposed these kinds of initiatives because they intrude on personal civil rights and because they belie our nation’s principle of justice for all. When justice for anyone in America is threatened, it diminishes us all as a free people.
As the ABA’s landmark study in our March 2010 report on the immigration adjudication system demonstrates, the U.S. immigration system is fundamentally broken. Indeed, the ABA is aggressively urging Congress to enact immigration reform as a top priority. The Arizona law gives the authority of state and local police to engage in a broad range of immigration enforcement activities, enforcement that is — and should remain — a federal responsibility.
Only with a comprehensive national approach can we enhance our border and national security — which will benefit Arizona and all states — while humanely and realistically addressing the undocumented population and our overburdened immigration court system, and preserving our American traditions of fairness and due process under the law.
As we become more globally interdependent, more sensitivity between peoples and nations is called for, not less. We as Americans must hearken back to the principles on which our nation was formed and which have led to our providing a beacon of liberty for the rest of the world. This law throws a cloak over that light.
With nearly 400,000 members, the American Bar Association is the largest voluntary professional membership organization in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law.