4:53 PM Eastern - Monday, June 25, 2012

The Last Word is Ours #default

There's a saying among Latinos often imparted to those who must deal with a bad decision or occurrence: A lo hecho, pecho. Those few words hold a magnitude of meaning; it tells our friends in distress, "It happened, now boldly confront it."

It's this old adage that I am reminded of as we face the Supreme Court's ruling on Arizona's abhorrent law SB 1070.

Although the Supreme Court agreed with us that only the federal government should regulate immigration and struck down three provisions of SB 1070, one key portion of the Arizona law was left in place: the racial profiling provision that forces law enforcement to request immigration papers of anyone they suspect might be undocumented. Ultimately the court did not specifically consider the racial profiling or unconstitutional search and seizure issues in this limited case, leaving the door open to future legal challenges.

There's no denying that this is a temporary setback for the cause of civil rights in America. But it only serves to fuel our fight to protect our basic civil rights and ignite momentum to change the politicians who have pushed such racially skewed laws.

We have already begun to demonstrate our tenacity and refusal to accept Arizona's regulation and other bigoted, anti-immigrant laws like Alabama's HB 56. Across America, our litigators have civil rights cases pending before numerous federal courts. We expect the courts will judiciously find these laws as destructive measures put in place to simply discriminate against an individual based on the way they look or speak.

The voices of the 99% have also exposed the state legislatures and governors who have advanced their discriminatory agendas, and consequences have followed. When Arizona gained a reputation for discrimination, the state lost an estimated $145 million in convention business, while the exodus of farmworkers left a stream of dead crops in Alabama.

This is only the beginning. The Supreme Court's decision to let the racial profiling provision stand is a call to action to communities across the country. Before this November, we will work to register and turn out an unprecedented number of Latinos voters. The National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) projects that a record 12.2 million Latinos will vote in the next Presidential election, a 26 percent increase over 2008. In a number of key states, their votes could influence the outcomes in key races and abet the fight to halt the wanted purge of our brothers and sisters.

Make no mistake, the Latino vote will be crucial in choosing representation that stands in solidarity with humanity and equality. The fair future we seek will become a reality when we elect officials who not only empathize with the immigrant story, but also have the resolve to reform our broken system and uphold the equal treatment under the law.

Together, with SEIU members and millions who will stand for justice for immigrants and civil rights, we will make sure that we gain a Congress that will no longer idly sit by as discrimination flourishes, families separate, DREAMers wait with uncertainty for a permanent solution and America loses its stripes of compassion. It is our responsibility, our duty as citizens to assure that the elected and appointed from Pennsylvania Avenue to Capitol Hill stand in the right side of history, next to us and all the immigrant communities.

Come November, the Supreme Court ruling will be but a whisper of an old hindrance we boldly confronted with the power of our voices and our reignited vote.

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