New Orleans The good news on the judge’s issuance of an injunction is that: boy, this was a close call and could have been soooo much worse! But, let’s be honest, we’re trying to pull “gold out of the garbage” as our ragpickers say. There’s still no reason for great joy and celebration because the opposition will be scheming at how to come closer next time, the appeals will be queued up a mile long, and we lost important issues here even while we are claiming a “win” on what is now routinely being called, the “most controversial” elements.
So local police will be enjoined from asking every conceivable person that they think might be illegal to show papers and stand to be arrested. The judge correctly saw through the governor’s baloney that local law enforcement offers were so well trained that they could avoid discrimination. Can you say the words, Sheriff Arpaio, and still repeat that sentence with a straight face, Governor? They can’t hold people for deportation by the feds based on SB1070, but we still have DHS Napolitano’s 287(g) for that mischief. Various civil penalties cannot be converted into crimes and everyone with a tan will not have to carry their paperwork to prove citizenship, but as today’s rallies in Phoenix “against the hate” make clear, these are symbolic victories when the anger at immigrants is being fanned to a vengeful and violent level of anger and potential attack.
Washed away in the headlines are huge concerns about the future of day laborers, which the National Day Laborers’ Organizing Network has indicated could cripple the ability for day laborers to find work and lead to huge legal oppression everywhere in the country. This was a confusing piece of the injunction story. The judge enjoined the efforts of Arizona to essentially drive day laborers off of the sidewalks and any public areas where they could look for work, but allowed the language that was based on the old ACORN v. Phoenix suit to stand which allows day laborers to be harassed and arrested if they seem to be a traffic nuisance. NDLON has correctly worried that day laborers would now be walking a tightrope thin line in trying to both protect their livelihoods and at the same time avoid arrest and prosecution (and therefore also potential deportation depending on the charge and jurisdiction) because traffic safety would trump everything and everybody.
I’m not whining. We desperately needed to win this injunction, so all good there, but “happy” and “celebrate” are not two words that come easily in this moment when so little is solved, other rights are eroded, and the forces of hate and repression are still gathering mightily in cities and states throughout the country with no real relief in sight.