NAACP, Civil Rights Organizations Call on Florida Legislators to Reject Racial Profiling Bills

HB 7089, SB 2040 Would Encourage Profiling Hinder Law Enforcement

(Tallahassee, FL) – NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous joined other civil and human rights leaders today in support of Florida State Organizations and Associations in urging Florida state legislators to oppose two anti-immigration bills, HB 7089 and SB 2040. The leaders argued that together the bills would require law enforcement officials to participate in racial profiling, which is both counterproductive and fiscally irresponsible.

HB 7089 would allow police to question suspects about their immigration status, and also require employers to use the federal E-Verify system for all new hires.

“This legislation bears a striking resemblance to Arizona’s infamous anti-immigration law,” stated NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous. “As in Arizona, the bill encourages discrimination, hinders effective police work, and is fiscally irresponsible. And as in Arizona, citizens around the state are standing up to question their constitutionality and morality.”

Jealous co-signed the letter with National Council of La Raza President Janet Murgía, National Executive Director and CEO of the Japanese American Citizens’ League S. Floyd Mori, President and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights Wade Henderson and National President of the League of United Latin American Citizens Margaret Moran.

“Racial profiling is counterproductive to effective law enforcement,” stated NAACP Florida State Conference President Adore Obi Nweze. “The threat of profiling discourages victims and witnesses from reporting crimes, and erodes trust for police officers in their communities. Our officers do not need more barriers in their jobs.”

"Our immigration system is in tatters—but our response to federal inaction cannot be irresponsible state action," said Janet Murguia, President and CEO of the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), the largest Latino civil rights organization in the United States. “Arizona is paying dearly for the mounting costs of passing racial profiling legislation. In Florida, legislators are staring down a failed path and they have a choice to make. We believe the right choice is for them to protect their state against those playing politics with the Florida's economic wellbeing and the civil rights its residents."

The letter states “The Constitution of the United States guarantees to all people equal protection under the law and the right to pursue life, liberty and happiness. Implicit in this guarantee is the ability to walk down the street, to drive one’s car down the road, or to enter into our own homes without fear of arrest or interference. Laws that encourage discrimination have no place in this country anywhere for anyone.”

“120,000 Americans were racially profiled in 1941 and sent to detention centers without due process because of their race,” stated S. Floyd Mori, National Executive Director and CEO of the Japanese American Citizens’ League. “This has been recognized as an egregious mistake, and it resulted in an apology from President George Bush. One of the main objectives of the legislation that recognized this error was to ensure that the nation learn from the mistake. I urge the Florida legislature to remember and learn. Do not make the same kind of mistake and repeat the fear and shame of racial profiling."

“The League of United Latin American Citizens is strongly opposed to efforts by state governments to try and usurp the federal responsibility for immigration laws,” added Margaret Moran, National President of the League of United Latin American Citizens added. “We believe that the US Congress and the President must pass comprehensive immigration reform this year in order to fix our badly broken immigration system and that those who are concerned about immigration reform in the state of Florida should ask their elected representatives in the US Congress to take action.”

The letter closes with all signatories asking for the Florida State Legislators to support the position of the NAACP Florida State Conference and reject HB 7089/SB 2040.

“The government should be preventing police from detaining people based on color and accent, not mandating it,” concluded Wade Henderson, President and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. “These bills are immoral, un-American and unconstitutional. Florida’s diverse population will not stand for legislation that undermines their basic civil and human rights.”

Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities, conducting voter mobilization and monitoring equal opportunity in the public and private sectors.

Read the Florida Anti-Immigrant Legislation Letter >

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