National Immigration Law Center
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Our mission is to defend & advance the rights & opportunities of low-income immigrants and their family members.

State & Local Enforcement: Testimony


Testimony of Karen C. Tumlin, Managing Attorney, National Immigration Law Center (PDF), submitted to the House Committee on the Judiciary, Hearing on H.R. 2278, Strengthen and Fortify Enforcement (SAFE) Act, 6/13/13.


“The SAFE Act ... focuses on immigration enforcement without fixing the legal immigration system’s problems. It is widely recognized that now is the time for commonsense reform that creates a road to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants and addresses the country’s needs for an immigration system that strengthens families and bolsters the economy. An enforcement-only approach to immigration will not solve the current problems with our immigration system—problems that we can all agree upon—and this bill proposes only more of the same. Even more troubling, the SAFE Act, if enacted, would radically alter the nature of federal immigration enforcement by vesting enforcement decisions in the hands of state and local actors without federal oversight. NILC’s firsthand experience with laws and policies similar to the SAFE Act have convinced us that it will create an environment of rampant racial profiling and unlawful discrimination and breed distrust of law enforcement, which decreases public safety.”

STATEMENT OF THE National Immigration Law Center (PDF), Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees, and Border Security, hearing on “Examining the Constitutionality and Prudence of State and Local Governments Enforcing Immigration Law,” 4/24/12.


“Although lower courts have blocked 4 key pieces of SB 1070, several other elements of the law were allowed to take effect at the end of July 2010. The impact of these portions of the law was immediately felt on the ground. Families have reported being afraid to go out in public out of fear they may be subject to prosecution under the law. Importantly, the law’s amendments to Arizona’s state criminal penalty for the harboring or transporting of undocumented immigrants has been allowed to take effect. As a result, across the state there is widespread fear that simple acts like taking neighbors to the doctor could be criminalized under this provision.

“After Arizona, 5 other states followed suit and passed their own racial profiling laws. These state laws that followed in Arizona’s footsteps have also been blocked—with the notable exception of Alabama. Because major portions of Alabama’s law was allowed to take effect, the experiences of Alabamians following the law’s implementation provides a powerful cautionary tale about what would happen if the currently blocked portions of Arizona’s SB 1070 were allowed to take effect....”

STATEMENT OF THE National Immigration Law Center (PDF), hearing on “Ending Racial Profiling in America,” Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights, United States Senate, 4/17/12.


“Alabama’s law is the only state law mandating law enforcement officers to investigate immigration status whenever they have ‘reasonable suspicion’ that an individual is undocumented that has been allowed to take effect. As a result, Alabama provides a striking example of how these state laws create an unlawful environment of racial profiling. NILC is particularly concerned about policies and programs at the national, state, and local level that encourage or incentivize racial profiling by law enforcement officials. We believe that these practices are counterproductive, waste public resources, and violate the civil and human rights of persons living in the United States.”