On Wednesday, April 25, our nation's Supreme Court heard the case regarding Arizona's anti-immigrant SB 1070. How it rules will have a major impact on civil rights in this country. The Supreme Court will decide if each state can make up its own policies regarding immigration matters, or if our federal government will continue to set nation-wide policies regarding immigration issues. We urge the Court to strike down SB 1070 as a statement that our nation stands up for civil rights, not bigotry and political opportunism.
The Supreme Court's decision will have an impact on our state of Illinois, where the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) is lobbying to build a new private immigration detention center just south of Chicago. Private prisons are a growth industry in our nation, a nation which leads the world in the percentage of our population in the criminal justice system, either awaiting trial, locked up, or on probation. CCA helped to draft and promote SB1070, no doubt as a way of making sure that draconion laws help keep their private prisons and detention centers full of human beings, and thus keep their profits high through per head payments from the federal and state goverments—that is, from us taxpayers.
If the Supreme Court upholds the Arizona law, more states will feel emboldened to pass their own copycat laws, meaning thousands of people who "look like illegal immigrants" (hint: darker-skinned people) being detained, and more demand for detention centers to be built and run by private prison companies like CCA –and still more money flowing into their corporate coffers as they continue to profit from human suffering.
Is this what we want in our country?
Not in Illinois. And not in the United States either, if the Supreme Court Justices see through the thinly-veiled hypocrisy and profiteering approach of SB 1070. This bill is not about fixing our immigration issues. It's about profits, racism, and scapegoating poor working families for an economic disaster created in our country by wealthy investors and billionaires who made risky and irresponsible decisions. And who own private prisons.
In Illinois, we reject policies which create human suffering and hurt civil rights. We reject policies which create profits from human misery. We in Illinois do not want bigotry and political opportunism to be the law of the land. We much prefer reason, civil rights, and compassion—American values for hundreds of years. Values which we can be proud of.
We in Illinois are doing our part to make sure that due process and respect for all people's dignity reigns in our state. Let's hope the Supreme Court makes us all proud when it rules on SB 1070-- proud to live in a country where upholding civil rights remains the law of the land.