ACLU of Oklahoma Reacts to the U.S. Supreme Court’s Decision Striking Down Three Provisions of Arizona’s Anti-Immigrant Law and Leaving Door Open for Future Challenges to “Show Me Your Papers” Requirement

June 25, 2012
Contact: Ryan Kiesel, Executive Director, ACLU of OK, 405.524.8511,

The United States Supreme Court ruled today that three of the four provisions of Arizona’s controversial and draconian immigration law were preempted by Federal Immigration Policy. A fourth provision, commonly referred to as the “Show Me Your Papers” provision survived, but with serious questions about how it would ultimately be implemented.

“Show Me Your Papers laws encourage discrimination against people based on how they look or how they speak,” said Ryan Kiesel, Executive Director of the ACLU of Oklahoma. “This legalized harassment and discrimination flies in the face of our basic rights.”

“That means if, for whatever reason, your last name, color of your skin or your accent allows you to be perceived as ‘foreign’ you’re vulnerable to being stopped,” said ACLU National Executive Director Anthony D. Romero. “That’s not an America we want to live in.”

While the ACLU of Oklahoma is disappointed the Court did not strike down the “Show Me Your Papers” provision of the law, the Court’s decision left the door open to future challenges.

“Today’s decision illustrates the administrative and legal minefield awaiting these laws if they are ever implemented. In practice, it is hard to imagine how the “Show Me Your Papers” provision won’t result in unconstitutional and illegal racial profiling and prolonged detentions,” said Kiesel.

“Show Me Your Papers” laws also exact a heavy financial toll. Alabama’s state economy has taken a multi-billion dollar hit as a result of its law. Arizona saw a drop in sales tax revenue and a jump in the unemployment rate when S.B. 1070 first became law in 2010. Farmers have seen their crops rot and are planting less because the workers they have relied on for decades have fled in fear.

Anti-immigrant laws also drain the resources of county sheriffs and local police departments who do not want the burden of serving as immigration agents while also trying to protect their communities. “Immigration checks poison efforts to foster trust and cooperation within all communities,” said Ed Smith, past president of the Oklahoma Association of Chiefs of Police.

In response to the ruling the national ACLU has amassed an $8.77 million war chest to mount an aggressive response against these laws. It will help underwrite continued litigation against these measures, lobbying efforts and public education programs. The aim is to beat back laws that encourage racial profiling, undermine local law enforcement and sow a climate of fear that pits neighbor against neighbor.

Three other provisions of the Arizona law, including making it a state crime for an immigrant who is not authorized to work in the United States to seek or accept employment and allowing state police to arrest a person for an immigration related offense without a warrant, were struck down because they are preempted by Federal immigration policy.

“Today’s decision strongly reaffirms that it is the federal government, not the states, who govern our nation’s immigration policy,” said Kiesel. “This decision sends a message to state legislatures that their frustration with Washington is not a license to undermine federal law. We should speak with one voice on immigration policy rather than enacting a patchwork of unworkable and often draconian immigration laws that vary from state to state.”

Kiesel said this decision should give pause to those politicians hoping for a green light to move forward with Arizona style anti-immigrant laws in their own states. “Instead of a green light, the Supreme Court gave them three red lights and one blinking yellow,” said Kiesel.

For an infographic about today’s decision and more information, go to:


Know Your Rights Videos

To watch a two-minute public service announcement about your rights in light of today’s Supreme Court decision on Arizona’s anti-immigrant law, SB 1070:
English video:
Spanish video: