President of the Arizona State Senate Russell Pearce.

The ACLU of Arizona released thousands of emails last week that they argue prove that SB1070, Arizona’s harmful anti-immigrant law, was racially motivated. The emails are cited in a new legal effort by the ACLU to challenge the remaining provision of SB1070 that requires police to determine the immigration status of anyone arrested or detained where there is “reasonable suspicion” that they are undocumented. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld this part of the law last month in Arizona v. United States.

The emails, found through a public-records request, were sent or received over the last six years by former State Senator and sponsor of the law, Russell Pearce. Emails include such statements as “Can we maintain our social fabric as a nation with Spanish [speakers] fighting English [speakers] for dominance? … It’s like importing leper colonies and hope we don’t catch leprosy. It’s like importing thousands of Islamic jihadists and hope they adapt to the American Dream.” Another email reads, “Tough, nasty illegals and their advocates grow in such numbers that law and order will not subdue them. They run us out of our cities and states. They conquer our language and our schools. They render havoc and chaos in our schools.” (More excerpts can be read here.)

The ACLU hopes to persuade the courts to overturn the law by proving that there was a pattern of discrimination in Pearce’s motive, which would violate the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause. Since SB1070 was passed in 2010, over two dozen similar bills have been introduced across the country, and five have passed in Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, Indiana, and Utah.

A recent poll shows that 66% of registered Latino voters oppose the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold part of SB1070, and 79% are concerned about racial profiling.

Media Resources: Arizona Republic 7/23/12; Associated Press 7/20/12; Arizona Central 7/20/12; Think Progress 7/20/12; ACLU Website

Photo credit to Flickr user Gage Skidmore.

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