top story
April 30, 2010

Statement of ABA President Lamm Re: Recently Enacted Arizona Immigration Law

The recently signed immigration law in  Arizona runs contrary to the fundamental tenets of our Constitution relative to  equal protection and due process.  This draconian, and likely  unconstitutional, law threatens to reverse nearly 50 years of civil rights advancements in  our nation.  It is, quite simply put, a law based on prejudice and fear, one whose purpose is to be divisive.

This law encourages second-class treatment  of individuals based on the color of their skin, and that is unacceptable.  The  _ has long opposed these kinds of initiatives because they intrude on personal civil rights and  because they belie our nation’s principle of justice for all.  When justice for anyone in America is threatened, it diminishes us all as a free people.

As the ABA’s landmark study in our March 2010 report on the immigration adjudication  system demonstrates, the U.S. immigration system is fundamentally broken.  Indeed, the ABA is aggressively urging Congress to enact immigration reform as a top  priority.  The Arizona law gives the authority of state and local police to engage in a broad  range of immigration enforcement activities, enforcement that is — and should  remain — a federal responsibility.

Only with a comprehensive national approach  can we enhance our border and national security — which will benefit Arizona and all  states — while humanely and realistically addressing the undocumented population  and our overburdened immigration court system, and preserving our American  traditions of fairness and due process under the law.

As we become more globally interdependent,  more sensitivity between peoples and nations is called for, not less.  We as Americans must hearken back to the principles on which our nation was formed and  which have led to our providing a beacon of liberty for the rest of the  world.  This law throws a cloak over that light.

With nearly 400,000  members, the _ is the largest voluntary professional membership organization in the world.  As the national  voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that  assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides  continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the  world of the importance of the rule of law.

Learn More About:  Lamm, CarolynImmigration

Comments (22)

  • *Pingback*
    1:04 AM May 1, 2010
    This Post Referenced in: DWN Members Denounce New Anti-Immigration Law in Arizona « Detention & Deportation News

    ... _: Statement of ABA President Lamm Re: Recently Enacted Arizona Immigration Law ...

  • UoP Student
    11:48 AM May 3, 2010

    Ms. Lamm,
    I am not a lawyer but rather a college student doing research. To the uninitiated, comparing the Arizona law to the Federal law that has been on the books for several years, I find that they are by and large the same. Could you please provide a side by side comparison of the existing federal law to the Arizona law.
    Thank you

  • Melanie J. Keffer
    2:51 PM May 3, 2010

    When discussing this issue some common sense points can be made. First, the issue is not discrimination against immigrants or minorities. The issue is “illegal” immigration. Illegal* — “Not according to or authorized by law.”

    Second, when we allow anyone of any race to illegally live in these United States of America, they are stealing from its citizens, pure and simple. Let me ask you if you would welcome people who broke into your home to live, use your utilities, eat your food and other wise use your resources that you work hard to pay for?? While living off you, these people have children. Would you subsidize their meager income with some of your income so that they can buy diapers and milk for their children? Of course, you wouldn’t. Why do you think Arizona should?

    Third, where does it end? Where do we draw the line? Do we simply sit back and let any and all people take over America?

    Third, you want to feel sorry for a minority, okay. Feel sorry for the men and women who OBEYED THE LAW (key point) and went through the process, the waiting period, paid the fees and gained the appropriate paperwork to live and work in this country. People who are thankful to be here, want to learn the language of their new country, who by the way gives its citizens so much, and do not wave flags demanding rights they have stolen.

    What about these people Ms. Lamm? Where is the law that protects these minorities? Where is the law that protects any citizen from lawlessness?

    When you said Arizona’s illegal immigration law belied “justice for all,” you were wrong. Justice for all means just that . . . ALL* – “Every member or individual component.” What about justice for the group I just spoke about, the legal immigrants of the United States? What about justice for the taxpayers?

    I am sorry to see someone serving as president of the _ with so little plain common sense. You contradict yourself in the above article when you wrote your last sentence saying the ABA, ” . . . works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law.”

    Do you realize how laughable you are? Thank goodness all this country’s legal minds are not like you.

    Melanie Keffer
    Olive Branch, MS

    *Merriam Webster Online Dictionary

  • Take a deep breath
    5:13 PM May 3, 2010

    Ms. Keffer, I think you missed the point. It’s evident in a statement like this: “Only with a comprehensive national approach can we enhance our border and national security — which will benefit Arizona and all states…”

    The idea is not to endorse illegal immigration, but the avoid /policing it/ at the expense of civil rights and/or the constitution.

  • Melanie J. Keffer
    7:39 PM May 3, 2010

    Ms. Lamm – Thank you for the honor of your reply. Your article, along with other viewpoints similiar to yours, are scary. You made several bold statements in regard to racial prejudice. See the current protests going on against the law Arizona passed? People, such as yourself, have automatically assumed that it was motivated by prejudice. Why do you assume that? There is no evidence for that. I know people that live in Arizona. What is going on there is horrible. I admire the governor for moving to protect the citizens of her state. What was she to do? Stand by and let things get worse? I would have done the same no matter the skin color of those illegally crossing the border. I think she would have also. Arizona worked hard to pass a law that was not prejudice based on someone’s skin color. You don’t mention that. Ms. Lamm, have you considered that most immigrants, legal or illegal, are going to have a different skin color than white? They are going to have different speech, etc. Common sense again. Does that mean they are allowed to break the law? Steal what is not their right . . . . and the privileges of citizenship are not their right when they come into our country illegally. Why weren’t these protests staged concerning mistreatment of our legal immigrants? Or, do we just mistreat illegals?

    Common sense would carry out the law with an even hand. Your article sounds as if the law does not apply to certain groups of people.

    Thank you again for replying.
    Melanie Keffer

  • Melanie J. Keffer
    7:44 PM May 3, 2010

    One more point, unless I read my history wrong, constitutional rights are not guaranteed to the everybody on the planet, are they? I thought they were for the citizens of our country? Certainly no other country grants “everyone” the rights their citizens have.

    I know this is a point of view that has surfaced in the last couple of years. It is also obvious that is this is a politically motivated issue.

  • Whoa
    1:30 PM May 4, 2010

    Melanie, you are completely not getting it. The law targets anyone who isn’t white who the authorities suspect may be here illegally. What civil rights activists are concerned about is that every non-white person can be subjected to searches and harassment in AZ now due to this law.

    People are protesting this law Ms. Keffer b/c it targets NOT just illegal immigrants, but those in this country legally as well.

    Would you like to be afraid of being stopped and not having your proof of citizenship with you? That’s what it could be like for many non-white Arizona citizens from now on.

    You need to think your position through a bit more and re-read the law before you start posting on this site. Thank you.

  • Recommendation
    1:31 PM May 4, 2010

    I hope that Ms. Keffer is pulled over by the police tomorrow and must prove that she is a U.S. Citizen. Maybe then she will understand the impact of this law.

  • 5th Generation Italian American
    5:44 PM May 4, 2010










    A JOB,


    IT’S TIME TO WAKE UP AMERICA !!!!!!!!!!!!

  • *Pingback*
    7:52 PM May 4, 2010
    This Post Referenced in: The Fire—Next Time « AZ Attorney

    ... opposing the recently passed Arizona immigration law. It staked out a pretty strong position. You can read the whole thing here. Pointe Hilton Tapatio ...

  • Anglo from AZ
    8:01 PM May 4, 2010

    A lifelong Arizonian and an active participant in the political processes here, I can say that the bill, along with the sentiments of many who support it, stems from a racism prevalent in our community. It is already illegal to be an “illegal alien.” The issue with this law is that it gives Sheriff Joe and his minions free reign to do what he’s been doing for years…hassle the poor minorities who are here illegally. If a lawful citizen leaves home without his “papers,” he can be detained until he can prove his innocence. People seem to forget, less than a century ago AZ wasn’t even a state in the union. I am a rare breed, having lived in AZ all my life. It is being taken over by people from the Midwest who find minorities disquieting. We need to be proud of our heritage and not be bullied from transplants from Omaha.

  • Joe from Columbus OH
    12:09 PM May 5, 2010

    Archbishop Desmond Tutu addressed Arizona’s SB 1070 as follows:

    “Abominations such as Apartheid do not start with an entire population suddenly becoming inhumane. They start here. They start with generalizing unwanted characteristics across an entire segment of the population. They start with trying to solve a problem by asserting superior force over a population. They start with stripping people of rights and dignity – such as the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty – that you yourself enjoy. Not because it is right, but because you can. And because somehow you think this is going to solve a problem.

    However, when you strip a man or a woman of their basic human rights, you strip them of their dignity in the eyes of their family and their community, and even in their own eyes. An immigrant who is charged with the crime of trespassing for simply being in a community without his papers on him is told he is committing a crime by simply being. He or she feels degraded and feels they are of less worth than others of a different color skin. These are the seeds of resentment, hostilities, and in extreme cases, conflict”

  • Melanie J. Keffer
    1:49 PM May 5, 2010

    Thank you for your suggestion that I “think” a little more before posting to this site. I have read the law as it was written. I did not get out of it what you get. Would I mind being stopped? Absolutely not. If you are here legally, what are you afraid of? You may correct me if I am wrong, as I am sure you will, but how many times a day do we, any of us, already show ID for transactions we make? I am forever having to prove my identity when writing a check or doing anything else.

    You keep saying that I am the one who doesn’t get it, maybe I don’t. I guess it is hard for me to wrap my mind around any attorney who sides with illegal activities, which is what you are essentially doing. This law, itself, doesn’t mistreat anyone. Someone who has served time in prison for breaking the law and is then released, has less rights than these illegal immigrants.

    What I am afraid of is the lawlessness, not the color of the skin. Like I said, nobody has been making a noise this loud over the mistreatment of legal immigrants. Isn’t that a civil rights issue? If your argument is valid, then they are being equally mistreated, yet I don’t read in the news or see on television any boycotts over their mistreatment. Do you?

    This whole thing smells a little hypocritical. You still haven’t told me where the “justice” is for those being vicitimized by illegal immigrants. Thank goodness the Governor of Arizona cares about their rights also.

    By the way, didn’t I just see in the news somewhere that Phoenix is the Kidnap Capital of the US? Hmmm. I wonder what you would do if you lived there?

  • Melanie J. Keffer
    2:08 PM May 5, 2010

    By the way, Ms. Lamm, I will give in just a little to the argument of being pulled over to check your citizenship status . . . I do see what you’re saying there. BUT, my point is, what is the alternative? The lawlessness has to be stopped. Immigrants, illegal or legal, from Mexico do not have white skin – fact of life. I don’t look a man either so anyone looking for a female would question me. Some of this is just common sense.

    Because Mexico, and I believe it is as much the Mexican government’s problem as it is ours, has so many people coming into our country illegally, they have hurt the ones that came here the right way. Another fact.

    You cannot take the racial prejudice of a small group of people and mix it with people, such as Arizona’s governor, who are genuinely concerned about enforcing the law and helping the lawful citizens of Arizona. That is what the opponents of this law are doing.

    Does it cross anyone’s mind, that everybody is not prejudice? Are we all feeling the effects of this thing? Yes. I will agree that the solution is painful. I am sorry for those good people who immigrated to our country legally. Maybe they should jump in on this and help. So far, all I have heard out of the latino community is that they side with the illegals and against the law. That is ashame. Even Gloria Estefan said herself that America has given so much to its immigrants, and it has! It should be time for those immigrants to give back in helping bring law and order to Arizona.

  • Bill Millard
    8:33 PM May 5, 2010

    After being an active and enthusiastic member of the ABA for the first twenty-five years of my legal career, I sensed things were changing, and quit. Statements such as yours show that it took me about 24 years and 3 months longer than it should have. Respectfully, butt back out, or learn something about what “professionalism” should be as distinguished from what it has become under the oxymoron of responsible leadership demonstrated by such as you (and, alas, too many of your predecessors).

  • 5th Generation Italian American
    10:03 PM May 5, 2010

    Ms Lam,
    I am a proud American and a Navy veteran who swore an oath to protect and defend the constitution from enemys foreign and domestic… with my life if necessary. Honoring the sacrifices of men and women that fought and died for our freedoms does not include illegal immigrants. My great grandparents came to this country from Italy and learned english because they had to. They didn’t ask for special treatment. They assimilated into the American mainstream, worked hard, paid taxes and raised familys,and became citizens. How do you figure illegal immigrants should be entitled to the same freedoms and rights as a US citizen when they are most definitely not. Maybe you should don a flack jacket and visit the troops in Afghanistan or visit some of the ranchers and their familys on the AZ / Mexico border and explain to them your rational why AZ should not enforce the law regarding illegal immigration. Or perhaps you could open up your house to illegal aliens. It’s a damn shame you can’t see the forest for the trees, but then again you have the right and freedom to express your opinion respectfully provided by the sacrifices of the men and women of the Armed Forces.

  • Tired
    10:08 PM May 5, 2010

    The real issue is the Federal Government’s refusal to act allowing more and more undocumented individuals into this country. Why would that be? As in all things political, its about votes. The Left’s view is that Hispanic voters will vote Democratic and so more Hispanics is better for them.

    Arizona’s legislation is a considered kick in the Federal Government’s backside trying to get it moving. Other states may join in the kicking. Now do not expect that 12 million Hispanics will up and return to the land of their birth, and frankly our economy couldn’t absord the loss of so many workers without damage. Some rational course to legal work must be provided, over a short period of time. After that period expires, impose manditory jail time on HR managers, and company owners who hire or retain undocumented workers on a first offense. Without the ability to obtain work, undocumented laborers will no longer be drawn to the US.

  • Not a lawyer but
    11:50 AM May 6, 2010

    I like, so many, find myself tired of all the broken boarders situation.Yes both Southern and Northern, because if any of you think that terrorist are just gonna use the south as a point of entry to this country, you’re dreaming!I am not so worried about the folks in the back kitchen cooking your restaurant meals, or making your hotel beds or mowing your lawns and helping to raise your children because they need a buck to feed their own back home; I am worried about those that truly want to cause harm and mayhem and that apparently can come in to the country legally. I am a Registered Nurse, I went to college and I pay taxes. I was also born in this country and I am Mexican American. The problem with the Arizona law (and yes I have traveled in that beautiful state) is it lends itself to profiling and stereotyping. I, unlike my “Anglo” husband, would be subjected to producing papers if the law enforcing protectors of that state decided I “look” illegal.It is particularly painful that this comes from Arizona, a south western Native American state. Funny thing is I don’t see the Native Americans coming out saying they don’t want illegal “looking” people in their state,if that was the case the people who wrote and support this law would not be in Arizona right? Another funny thing is that all these “Americans” who came here legally have used the “Manifest Destiny” banner to steal and swindle not to mention destroy cultures, but it is ok when it applies to them. The day the red man comes out of his reservation and tells me I have to produce my papers and start speaking their native tongue is the day I comply; before that, hell will freeze over. Personally, I am thrilled Jan “Native American” Brewer signed the law, it has brought immigration reform to the forefront and that is what is obviously needed, not more country division, the politicians are doing that already in Washington. What I want to know is why your organization is holding its “pow Wow” in Arizona? Are you not supposed to represent all Americans? Lets just say that if any of you fall over, I am not going to ask you for your papers, I’ll get you help and start CPR…..

  • Freedom Lover
    3:40 PM May 6, 2010

    According to CNN, the _ will hold a gathering next week in Phoenix. Why would you meet in a state that has become the 21st century Mississippi? Shame on the ABA.


  • Republican
    1:00 PM May 7, 2010

    Right on, Melanie J. Keffer, right on!!!

  • Jim Lavers
    8:24 PM May 7, 2010

    Perhaps Ms. Lamm can explain why the Arizona law is so pernicious when its requirements are essentially the same as federal law. There is little question that regulating immigration is exclusively a federal prerogative. That is why a statute like 8 U.S.C. § 1357(g) is necessary to allow local law enforcement to collaborate with INS in limited circumstances. While I understand the argument that the Arizona law isn’t enforcing immigration policy/law, the courts probably won’t see it that way.
    I don’t think that other Constitutional challenges will succeed. It is not unconstitutional to require aliens to possess registration papers; federal law already requires as much. 8 U.S.C. § 1304(e) (“shall at all times carry with him and have in his personal possession”). Pretty much every country in the world requires this. Apart from the state encroaching onto a federal issue (see above), there is nothing inherently unconstitutional about authorized law enforcement agents investigating someone’s right to be in the country. Again, federal law already does this: an INS officer may, without a warrant, “interrogate any alien or person believed to be an alien as to his right to be or remain in the United States.” 8 U.S.C. § 1357(a)(1). Courts regularly uphold the Constitutionality of this statutory scheme. Likewise, the Supreme Court has frequently defined “reasonable suspicion,” so that is hardly a novel concept to any legal professional.

  • 24AheadDotCom
    11:20 PM May 12, 2010

    Ms. Lamm:

    The far-left and their friends (banks that profit from illegal activity, corporations that employ illegal aliens, corrupt foreign governments, corrupt politicians, etc.) currently fight against most forms of immig. enforcement. They might say they support enforcement, but then they work to oppose enforcement through lawsuits, press releases, lies, and on and on.

    The “reform” you support supposedly would provide more enforcement than we have now, designed to prevent the current situation from recurring.

    What guarantee can you offer that the far-left and friends won’t simply fight against “reform”-mandated enforcement, just as they fight against enforcement now?

    Would you and all other members of the ABA who agree with you be willing to offer a bond of some kind that would pay we Americans if the far-left works to undercut “reform”-mandated enforcement? If not, what sort of guarantee can you offer?