Social Injustice: The Arizona Immigration Law


The Arizona immigration bill, referred to as Arizona law S.B. 1070, presents a number of important issues to analysts of social science and members of the public. The main issue is that migrants who are unauthorized, together the communities they come from, will be subjected to intense surveillance by local and state police. In addition, these communities that are mainly Latino, Caribbean, Asian and African, will consequently face likely arrest, detention and punishment (Magana, & Lee, 2013). My opinion on this law is that it presents inequalities in social justice. This essay will look at social justice variables of the Arizona immigration bill. It will also explore the impact the law that has brought to minority communities, who are victims of fear of authority, racial profile and separation of family.

Literature Review

There are four S.B. 1070 requirements that are at issue. They include:

• Section 2(B) that requires law enforcement in Arizona to try and determine the immigration status of a person during a lawful arrest, detention and stop. This would occur if the person is reasonably suspected to be an alien and present unlawfully in the U. S.

• Section 3 that makes it a state crime to fail to carry or complete an alien registration document.

• Section 5(C) that makes it a misdemeanor for an individual who is an unauthorized alien in the United States to knowingly apply for employment in a public place.

• Section 6 that authorizes local and state officers to arrest people without warrants there is a probably reason to believe that the person has committed a public offence that would make him or her to removable from the United States (Ana & Bustamante, 2012).

The Arizona immigration bill also touches on never-ending importance of addressing migration issues in the United States, as well as the hidden issue of civil and human rights in immigration and border enforcement. It is inappropriate for Arizona to use failure by the nation to make comprehensive immigration reform as an excuse for passing such laws.

Basics of the Arizona Immigration Bill

S.B. 1070 seems to be quite a complex law due to the fact that it has several unique elements. For instance, it makes being undocumented a crime in Arizona however it is not the same as the federal violation crime, by entering the country without inspection and unauthorized status. This means that it is a state crime for a person who is in the US illegally not to have an immigration document. Arizona local and state police thus have probable cause to make warrantless arrests based on one’s immigrations status (Mooney, Knox & Schacht, 2012).

The law also makes it illegal for immigrants with no authorization to work or seek employment. In addition, it is also an offense for a business owner to hire an immigrant while fully aware of his or her immigration status. Such requirements are usually targeting casual laborers, although they also include a wider variety of satiations and individuals. Moreover, federal authorities will have to be notified in case an unlawfully present non-citizen is discharged after he or she has been convicted of a certain crime.

S.B. 1070 From a Historical Perspective

According to Urias (2012), the modern boundary between the U.S. and Mexico was established by a US war of aggression lasting between 1848 and 1853. Individuals of Mexican origin together with many sovereign Native Americans were left without any means of earning a living north of the border. Northward migration to the US from Mexico started in the late 19th century, during a time of intense capitalist development. It has continued until present day due to the high demand for labor north of the borders. The difference between then and now is the United States’ policy towards the migrants as well as how the law treats them (Lusk, Staudt, & Moya, 2012).

During the 1990s, local and state actions emerged against unauthorized immigrants, but the laws were repeatedly stuck down after they were passed. The following decade, more sophisticated actions were being drafted by an initiative working on a national basis and then diffused the legislatures of individual states. The key organization of this initiative is the Immigration Institute of Law Reform, particularly a law professor named Kris Kobach, responsible for drafting legislation for Arizona substantially. In 2007, legislation had been passed in the state, penalizing employers who employed unauthorized workers by denying them business licenses. Although most of these laws have been sustained in courtrooms, they have seldom been enforced (Urias, 2012).

Most laws offer punishment to both migrants and those who employ them, but migrants are more vulnerable that actual businesses in the migration system for the unauthorized. Sheriff’s departments and local police in Arizona are approaching immigrants in various seemingly unethical ways, such as conducting street sweeps of Latinos to identify those to be deported. Such extra-legal operations would be legalized by S.B. 1070 (Ana & Bustamante, 2012).

Theoretical and Methodological Used in Research

 Information for this research was gathered from mainly books and scholarly articles analyzing the facts on Arizona state law concerning immigration. In addition, some of the information was from experienced lawyers and scholars with a vast knowledge on the topic. Maps of the areas where social injustices were prevalent also came in handy.

Analysis of Research Findings

S.B. 1070 has both its pros and cons. Today we will look at the pros, as there are several main arguments in favor of the law. For one, the law targets migrants who are also illegal according to federal law, something that is mirrored in Arizona law. Gabrile, Hessick, Massaro & Miller (2011) it’s opinionated that it’s the fault of immigrants and their responsibilities since they have decided willingly to migrate without permission. The term “illegality” is something society should get rid of as it is a disorder. Migrants who cross a border without inspection are guilty of a federal crime while unauthorized status in the US is an administrative crime that is enforced by deportation.

Another argument in favor of the law is that Arizona has become a pathway for both drugs and people, resulting from diversion from other sections of the border. Areas neighboring the border are full of off-road vehicles and human pedestrians, with damage occurring to properties such as ranches. This has resulted in formation of smuggling organizations and an increased presence of stash houses, armed smuggling, ransom cases and car chases (Ana & Bustamante, 2012).

S.B. 1070 is a lesson to be learned from the failure of the federal government to facilitate comprehensive immigration reforms, which would go a long way in reducing instances of authorized immigration. If such bills are not passed, the states would somehow become restless. In addition, the unauthorized border crossing that still goes on is proof that the border is not fully controlled. The national failure to enable the migration of many people openly and legally cannot be denied. According to national polls, S.B. 1070 and similar policies have a lot of support from most whites but not blacks and Hispanics like it (Gabrile, Hessick, Massaro & Miller, 2011).

There are many criticisms of the Arizona immigration bill, with parts of the law facing legal review in courts. Equal protection under the law is the other legal concern likely to take experience and time to judge. The main concern is that the requirements whereby an individual is suspected of being unauthorized can result in Mexican-looking people being discriminated against. Such people are likely to be detained disproportionally to be identified, either when stopped by the police, or help while awaiting identification to be supplied. This is what racial profiling raises concern.

Mandated police processes on a basis of reasonable suspicion would result in Mexican-looking people being treated differently from all of whatever nationality or legal status. They would be detained for a long time as the police seek to authenticate their documents. Some may argue that this is unlikely to happen for two reasons. For one, reasonable suspicion is only applied when law enforcement officers are stopping, arresting or detaining an individual, and hence is not used to pick on people indiscriminately. All in all, some police officers are known to use pretext lawful stops as a common tool, together with unannounced checkpoints (Eagly, 2011).

Policy Recommendation

There are ways in which the Arizona immigration bill and its policy can be applied in a manner that avoids social injustice. All sorts of statue and laws aimed at containing unauthorized migrant are spreading across the United States. It is an important task for the people in Arizona and America in general to fully examine such initiatives before putting them into action. This means collaborative work with various communities. There is need for alliances to be developed between members of immigrant communities and organizations, together with supportive institutions like local police departments (Eagly, 2011).

The law reduces numerous issues of migration law reforms that involves many forces, and seems to target an isolated vulnerable group of migrants. This targeting makes this group even more vulnerable. Politicians and citizens alike need to debate more about deeper issues like the economics of migration. The public should also be made aware that this is an issue affecting everyone, not just Latinos or immigrants. Every person benefits from fair policing and equal protection (Gabrile, Hessick, Massaro & Miller, 2011).

S.B. 1070 raises a number of offensive distinctions and stigmas. One of them is an unauthorized or legal distinction that is obviously found in the bill. However the law does hide its racism, on the other hand, mainly its clause against national origin or racial profiling. Yet a majority of the United States population still feels that Mexicans are foreigners or illegal aliens. There is a skin color, racist and nativist hostility towards people of Mexican origin, as their population continues to grow in importance and size in the US (Urias, 2012).

Other discrimination elements are fear of a demographic change that has to be dealt with, including advocacy for immigrants. Advocating for an inclusive, ample and creative vision of America is important factor at this time by demanding for new rights and opportunities. The beauty and rational value of this vision is demonstrated by United States history. From the timing of the Arizona immigration law, it would seem as scapegoating was key. The state is among those most affected worse by real estate bubble bursting and human suffering resulting from mortgage foreclosures. There is no doubt that unauthorized immigrants were not responsible for this, from a rational point of view. American citizens need to recognize scapegoating, understand it and shield

it off. In addition, tensions about the United States and Mexico border are central to the Arizona immigration law. It is recommended that the US government learns how deal with the powerful distortions spread around by the news media (Gabrile, Hessick, Massaro & Miller, 2011).

A detailed analysis of fears about the border is necessary and cannot be avoided. This border is a representation of the boundary between safe and threatening interiors, given the current period of corrosive globalization. The individuals and materials going through this border seem to be dangerous and blowing maters out of proportion.


The Arizona immigration bill, S.B. 1070, is a law that targets unauthorized immigrants, particularly those from the minority communities in the state. Such people are subjected to constant surveillance and can be arrested, detained or punished if found out to be undocumented. The bill gives law enforcement officers specific mandates to enforce it, and this is where trouble arises. It involves the sensitive issue of racial profiling and is prone to abuse, since the police seem to be targeting people from minority communities. However, there are various ways of applying the law harmoniously without looking like it’s discriminatory. The only way to achieve this is through collaboration between all the parties involved.



Ana, O.S., & Bustamante, C.G. (2012) Arizona Firestorm: Global Immigration Realities, National Media, and Provincial Politics. New York, NY: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.

Eagly, I.V. (2011). Local Immigration Prosecution: A Study of Arizona Before SB 1070. UCLA Law Review, 58(4), 11-21

Gabrile, J.C., Hessick, C.B., Massaro, T.M. & Miller, M.L. (2011) A Legal Labyrinth: Issues Raised by Arizona Senate Bill 1070. UCLA Law Review, 25(3), 37-93

Lusk, M.W., Staudt, K.A., & Moya, E. (2012) Social Justice in the U.S.-Mexico Border Region. San Diego, CA: Springer.

Magana, L. & Lee, E. (2013) Latino Politics and Arizona’s Immigration Law SB 1070. San Diego, CA: Springer.

Mooney, L.A., Knox, D., & Schacht, C. (2012) Understanding Social Problems, 8th ed. San Francisco, CA: Cengage Learning.

Urias, D.A. (2012) The Immigration & Education Nexus. San Diego, CA: Springer.


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