The nation's highest court in the land struck down three sections of the Arizona law that cracks down on illegal immigrants, but the law's most controversial element, the so-called "show me your papers" provision, remains intact. On Saturday, Houston United and Pastors in Action, two civil rights groups, will host a forum to ensure the protection of civil and constitutional rights for all communities. Michael Espinoza is with Houston United.
"These are broad sweeping implications here, and when this law got put before the Supreme Court, we all sat wondering what this will mean. Will the courts make sure that police can't ask us for our papers just because of the color of our skin, or will this open season on immigrants? So, these are part of the questions that everybody is in their homes facing."
When it comes to law enforcement, Espinoza says they have an open dialogue with the Houston Police Department, but admits they're working on one with the Harris County Sheriff's Department. He says they don't see eye to eye because of its support of the 287G program. That's the federal law that partners law enforcement with ICE, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, to intercept, interview and detain foreigners suspected of being in this country illegally.
"That's exactly why we have to be pro-active and really educate people about what their rights are, so prevent things from happening like racial profiling. That's our big fear. That is the big specter that's looming over the horizon is really that. It's one thing to ask a person for an ID, and it's another thing to profile somebody racially."
Gerardo Cardenas with National Church ID, a member of Pastors in Action, says they want to clarify what the letter of the law states.
"We don't want only to tell the people what's the implication, but we want to be pro-active. And we want to give to our leaders in the community, the governor and the leaders in this state, to give them our affairs. We don't want another Arizona in Texas."
Saturday's informational forum will involve prominent immigration experts and attorneys, as well as former Harris County Commissioner Sylvia Garcia, who is president of NALEO, the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials.