The City of Gainesville has joined Los Angeles and other U.S. cities to take a stand against an Arizona immigration law. The law gives police officers the right to stop or arrest anyone in the state who they think may be an illegal immigrant.
During a City Commission meeting Thursday, the commission voted unanimously, with Commissioner Todd Chase absent, to join a legal brief against the state of Arizona and its law targeting immigration.
The case, titled U.S. v. the State of Arizona, will be heard in front of the Supreme Court starting April 25, according to Reuters.
The city’s name will be on a document submitted to the case in support of repealing the law, but the city will not be responsible for any financial or time commitments.
“This is a law that is not humanitarian,” Mayor Craig Lowe said in an interview. “And it is one that will lead to racial profiling.”
The issue at hand is whether Arizona lawmakers have the right to pass a law that would require officers to stop or arrest people based on perceived immigration status.
The federal government, not individual states, has the right to pass immigration laws, said Berta Hernandez-Truyol, a UF law professor and expert in human rights law. However, states can pass laws that deal indirectly with immigration.
Briefs like this one are filed by parties that are not involved in the case but would like to express their support for one side, she said.
“This clearly signals that Gainesville believes we should treat people fairly and not single out a certain population,” Hernandez-Truyol said.
Lowe said he also doesn’t like the fact that the law makes city police officers enforce federal civil law instead of criminal law.
“It puts the police in conflict with local immigrant communities, which undermines their relationship,” Lowe said.
UF law student William Hummel, 24, said he not only supports the human rights standpoint taken by the city, but he also agrees that cities should speak up for themselves.
“If states are going to force local mandates on cities, then cities should express how they feel about this,” Hummel said.
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