WHEREAS, Pennsylvania and Philadelphia are home to immigrants from many countries who contribute economically, socially and culturally to the region;

WHEREAS, Philadelphia City Council,1 The American Bar Association,2 the U.S. Conference of Mayors,3 religious and labor leaders and many public officials have acknowledged that the current immigration and adjudications systems are fundamentally broken;

WHEREAS, the Philadelphia City Council, the U.S. Conference of Mayors and the American Bar Association have called upon Congress to enact comprehensive immigration reform;

WHEREAS, the Philadelphia Bar Association has in the past called for fair and humane immigration policies consistent with constitutional and civil rights through a Resolution Opposing the Real ID Act of 2005 (March 31, 2005), which stated that the Act would “drive millions of hard working immigrant …underground”; Resolution Opposing HR 4437, The Border Protection, Anti-Terrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act (March 30, 2006) which would have criminalized the civil violation of immigration status; and passed a Resolution on the Dream Act (February 23, 2006) which supports federal legislation allowing minor children a pathway to legalization and higher education;

WHEREAS, the vacuum caused by the lack of federal legislation that would establish border protection with humane enforcement policies, and respect the constitutional and civil rights of immigrants has led to the passage of state laws that attempt to “enforce” federal immigration laws;

WHEREAS, one such law that recently was enacted by the State of Arizona is known as S.B. 1070 (“S.B. 1070”);

WHEREAS, House Bill No. 2479, Printer’s No. 3715 (“H.B. 2479”), modeled after the Arizona law, has been introduced in the Pennsylvania General Assembly;

WHEREAS the Philadelphia City Council passed resolutions 100319 and 100329 on May 6, 2010, opposing the Arizona law and H.B. 2479;

WHEREAS, SB 1070 and H.B. 2479 fundamentally mirror each other and, among other provisions:

  • Have as their intent “to make attrition [of illegal immigrants] through enforcement”;
  • Allow law enforcement officers, without warrant, to arrest a person if the officer has probable cause to believe that the person has committed any public offense that makes the person removable from the U.S.;
  • Explicitly require state and local law enforcement officials to inquire about immigration status of any person who is “reasonably suspected” of being unlawfully present when lawful contact or a lawful stop occurs;
  • Make it a misdemeanor to fail to carry proper immigration documents, essentially criminalizing immigration status;
  • Permit lawsuits by any individual against local or state government agencies that have policies that hinder enforcement of immigration laws;
  • Permit the police to impound/immobilize a vehicle, if the driver is determined by a police officer to be unlawfully present or if the vehicle is being used to transport undocumented immigrants;

WHEREAS, the local enforcement of immigration laws as proposed by H.B. 2479 attempts to regulate immigration laws, an area reserved to the federal government, thereby raising serious constitutional concerns;

WHEREAS, the standard of “reasonable suspicion” in the context of a violation of civil immigration laws is overly broad, constitutionally suspect and gives rise to racial profiling;

WHEREAS, local enforcement relies on the immigrant community’s trust to report crime, and victims and witnesses will be hesitant to come forward if their immigration status will be the subject of investigation, as evidenced by the opposition to S.B. 1070 by police chiefs from around the country ; 4and

WHEREAS, the Federal Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit challenging S.B. 1070 on the grounds that the statute constitutes state action which interferes with federal authority to enforce immigration laws.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Philadelphia Bar Association opposes the implementation of Arizona S.B. 1070, the passage of House Bill No. 2479, Printer’s No. 3715, and any similar legislation;

AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Chancellor and/or his designee are authorized to communicate the position of the Philadelphia Bar Association to members of the Pennsylvania General Assembly, the Governor of Pennsylvania, the Governor of Arizona, the media and the public, and to take such other action in furtherance of this resolution as may be appropriate and necessary.

ADOPTED: July 29, 2010

1 Resolution No. 100027 of the City of the City of Philadelphia, passed January 28, 2010.
2 Resolution on Comprehensive Immigration Reform, passed February 13, 2006,; see also, “Reforming the Immigration System: Proposals to Promote Independence, Fairness, Efficiency, and Professionalism,” ABA Commission on Immigration, in the Adjudication of Removal Cases
3 Resolution of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, 78th Annual Meeting, June 11-15th, Oklahoma City, available at
4 “Arizona Immigration Law Will Boost Crime, Police Chiefs Tell U.S. Attorney General,”