In an April op-ed piece in the Washington Post timed to the Supreme Court's consideration of Arizona's anti-immigrant SB-1070, Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez wrote that "I am deeply concerned about the human consequences if Arizona’s law is upheld....The Supreme Court decision in Arizona v. United States will mark a critical juncture in our nation’s immigration history. We will either maintain the direction which has made us a great nation or embark on a darker course that weakens and divides us. Let’s pray we choose the right path."
First, it would create a society that treats foreign–born men and women not as contributors to our American life, but as threats. The Arizona statute permits law enforcement officials to detain a person pursuant to a legal stop if they have a reasonable suspicion that the person is undocumented and the person cannot prove otherwise. This encourages a kind of racial “profiling” that is inconsistent with traditional American respect for human dignity and equality before the law. It opens every ethnic minority person to being targeted under even the slightest pretext — such as having a broken tail light. There is no way to tell from the color of a person’s skin whether or not he or she is “documented.” So inevitably, a law like this will cause confusion and injustices not only for undocumented persons, but for U.S. citizens and “legal” immigrants.
Second, upholding the Arizona law would accelerate a disturbing anti-family tendency that we find in our nation’s current enforcement of immigration laws. In recent years, we have witnessed an alarming rise in the number of undocumented parents being seized and forcibly removed and separated from their U.S.-citizen children. Arizona-type laws will only increase the circumstances of a child waiting at home for a parent or parents to care for them, only to never have them arrive. We must retain a deep concern for innocent children and family unity in our immigration policy. If we don’t, we do more than disregard the futures of the 4 million innocent U.S. citizens children living with an undocumented parent or parents. To lose our abiding care for children and families in our law enforcement would signal a deep and unhealthy change in our American character.