Immigration has been a hot topic in the United States for years. When Arizona proposed its tough new immigration enforcement law earlier this year, it sparked a firestorm between the federal government and Arizona, as well as among citizens across America. Before we move into the details on what churches need to know about immigration law as it relates to welcoming undocumented immigrants into church and recruiting them to work or volunteer, it's important to understand the context in which this issue is being played out.
In April 2010, the state of Arizona proposed one of the toughest immigration enforcement laws—SB 1070. This Senate Bill requires individuals to carry proof of citizenship at all times. It gives local police the power to question individuals about their immigrant status even if they are stopped for a routine offense, such as a traffic violation. Arizona lawmakers, weary of the federal government's failure to effectively enforce border laws, proposed this legislation in an effort to gain control over their borders, which have become a main point of entry for illegal immigrants.
President Obama and his administration view the Arizona law as an unlawful intrusion on a federal area of law enforcement and policy. On July 6, 2010, the U.S. government brought federal suit to enjoin Arizona's controversial law from intruding on the historical jurisdiction of the federal government to regulate immigration under the supremacy clause of the United States Constitution. The Obama administration believes that the federal jurisdiction over immigration includes both regulation and enforcement, whereas Arizona's law seeks to carve out an immigration enforcement role for the State. Opponents of Arizona's immigration law are concerned that this kind of broad power among local law enforcement will lead to racial profiling, harassment, and discrimination against Hispanics, regardless of their citizenship status.