In response to the victory, Victor Viramontes, MALDEF National Senior Counsel, who argued the case before the court on January 6, stated, “Today the Court vindicated the rights of day laborers to peacefully solicit work and blocked Arizona’s illegal attempt to mute them. Courts will not tolerate laws banning day labor solicitation, and other jurisdictions considering similar laws should take note of this important ruling.”
Today’s district court decision recognizes that day labor is completely lawful. The decision also recognizes that the explicit intent of the anti-day labor provisions of SB 1070 was to drive immigrants from the state of Arizona–not, as the state had argued in court, to preserve traffic safety.
The court’s decision is the second in as many weeks to uphold day laborers’ First Amendment right to express their need for work on public streets and sidewalks. Last week, the Supreme Court declined to review a Ninth Circuit decision striking down on First Amendment grounds a Redondo Beach ordinance that criminalized day labor solicitation (Comité de Jornaleros de Redondo Beach v. City of Redondo Beach). The court’s ruling in Redondo Beach struck down the City of Redondo Beach’s anti-solicitation ordinance as a “facially unconstitutional restriction on speech.” Citing “well-established principles of First Amendment law,” the en banc Ninth Circuit concluded that the city’s “ordinance fails to satisfy the narrow tailoring element of the Supreme Court’s time, place and manner test.” The Supreme Court decision means that the Ninth Circuit case is controlling precedent throughout the western United States.
Viramontes argued on behalf of a coalition of civil rights attorneys that represent day laborer and other civil rights organizations that the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees the right to free expression, including solicitation speech.
Jessica Karp, Counsel for Plaintiffs and Staff Attorney for the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON), said, “In seeking to silence day laborers, the state of Arizona trampled on the US Constitution. Day laborers fought back and bravely defended the First Amendment for the benefit of all. Today’s decision is a victory for day laborers and everyone who cherishes the First Amendment right to free expression on public streets and sidewalks.”
“The court properly recognized that these harmful provisions unlawfully intrude on free speech protections,” said Kenneth Sugarman, a staff attorney with the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project. The law not only violates constitutional principles, but places a severe burden on many workers’ ability to seek work during these tough economic times. Claims by the state that it was acting to address a traffic safety problem simply don’t hold water.”
Salvador Reza, who runs a Phoenix day labor center and is a member of Tonatierra, a plaintiff in the case, had this to say: “This is a great victory for day laborers and all because it gives the right of every human being to look for work. Arizona Governor Brewer and Sheriff Arpaio need to begin to obey the law and respect day laborers rights immediately.”
“We are thrilled to hear of the court’s ruling today enjoining provisions of SB1070 that attempted to criminalize the hard working day laborers who are a vital part of our communities,” said Alison Harrington, Pastor at the Southside Presbyterian Church, a plaintiff in the litigation. She continued, “It is our hope that with this ruling we might all be reminded of the fundamental rights shared by all regardless of anti-immigrant bias of the day.”
“Today, a federal court reaffirmed that states cannot interfere with our sacred first amendment rights by trying to ban day laborers from seeking work on street corners to improve their communities and families’ well-being,” said Marielena Hincapie, Director of the National Immigration Law Center. She continued, “As we have seen in Arizona, Utah, Indiana, Georgia, and South Carolina, states’ attempts to unconstitutionally infringe upon a person’s federally protected rights have been stopped in their tracks.”
Plaintiffs’ attorneys include a coalition of civil rights organizations that have an established tradition of fighting to protect first amendment rights for all members of society and have been at the forefront of the battle to challenge all of the discriminatory and unconstitutional provisions in SB 1070.
MALDEF, the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON), ACLU, and the National Immigration Law Center (NILC) represent labor, domestic violence, day laborer, human services and social justice organizations, including Service Employees International Union (SEIU), SEIU Local 5, United Food and Commercial Workers International (UFCW), Arizona South Asians for Safe Families (ASAFSF), Southside Presbyterian Church, Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Asian Chamber of Commerce of Arizona, Border Action Network, Tonatierra Community Development Institute, Muslim American Society, Japanese American Citizens League, Valle del Sol, Inc., and Coalicíon De Derechos Humanos.