PHOENIX -- Opponents of Arizona's hardline immigration enforcement law contend that emails sent, received and forwarded by a former legislator who championed the law support allegations it was racially motivated.

Dozens of emails are cited in a new legal effort by the American Civil Liberties Union and other civil rights groups to block police from enforcing the Arizona law's so-called "show me your papers" provision recently upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The groups said the emails and other material reveal that ex-Sen. Russell Pearce and other supporters of the law known as SB1070 embraced discriminatory views and bent the truth about immigration-related matters, setting the stage for enactment of a law that the groups contend will lead to racial profiling if enforced.

Russell is the architect of Arizona's immigration law.

The use of the emails in the court filing later Tuesday was reported Friday by The Arizona Republic.

Pearce on Friday denied discriminatory intent in championing the law, telling The Associated Press that the civil rights groups falsely portray him as a racist and that the law includes protections against racial profiling.

"Nobody wants to talk about that," he said. "I've been attacked for years. I don't expect it to stop."

The motion cited dozens of emails that were sent, received or forwarded by Pearce. Many of the emails asserted costs and troubles associated with unauthorized immigration, including crime and increased demand for public services such as education and health care.

Pearce has made countless public statements to that effect in recent years, while repeatedly saying he just wants federal and state officials to enforce laws against unauthorized immigration.

In one article forwarded by Pearce from one of his email accounts to another in 2006, a commentator spoke of the United States "facing an overwhelming illegal alien invasion" in which Hispanic undocumented immigrants were "arrogantly corrupting our unifying national language while actively disrespecting our culture, society and country."

A 2007 email sent from Pearce's legislative email account to a personal Pearce account said unauthorized immigration of Spanish-speakers puts the country's status as an English-speaking country at risk.

"It's like importing leper colonies and hope we don't catch leprosy," the email stated. "It's like importing thousands of Islamic jihadists and hope they adapt to the American dream."

The five-page email contained multiple references to conditions in Arizona, but Pearce said the leprosy reference was from material written by a man in Colorado.

"I forward a lot of his stuff. Much of it is right on," Pearce said.

The Arizona law's so-called "papers" provision requires police to check the immigration status of people they stop for other reasons if there is reasonable suspicion the people are in the country without documentation.

The high court on June 25 rejected the Obama administration's argument that the provision was unconstitutional because federal law trumps state law. But the civil rights group now argues that it should be blocked because Latinos in Arizona would face systematic racial profiling and unreasonably long detentions.

The civil rights groups' motion argues that discriminatory intent by legislative supporters of the law would help prove that it violates the Constitution's right to equal protection under the law.

Jack Chin, a University of California-Davis law school professor, said courts typically are more interested in details of laws or their enforcement, and that legislative emails and questionable claims of fact have limited value as evidence.

"If we're talking about the bad views of one legislator, even an important legislator, that's going to be a hard sell because the majority of legislators who voted for the thing might not have been racially motivated," Chin said.

A spokesman for Gov. Jan Brewer said the groups' arguments are a smoke screen that won't succeed in court.

"By focusing upon an individual legislator's emails, they intend to divert focus from SB1070's simple, common-sense language - language that the overwhelming majority of Arizonans and Americans support, and language that the Supreme Court unanimously upheld," said Brewer spokesman Matthew Benson.

Pearce was Arizona Senate president when he was ousted from the Legislature after losing a November 2011 recall election. He is running for re-election to the state Senate.

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Information from: The Arizona Republic, http://www.azcentral.com

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  • The Template: California Proposition 187 (1994)

    California's Proposition 187 was submitted to the voters with the full support of then Republican governor Pete Wilson. It essentially blamed undocumented immigrants for the poor performance of the state economy in the early 1990s. The law called for cutting off benefits to undocumented immigrants: prohibiting their access to health care, public education, and other social services in California. It also required state authorities to report anyone who they suspected was undocumented. <strong>Status:</strong> The law passed with the support of 55 percent of the voters in 1994 but declared unconstitutional 1997. The law was killed in 1999 when a new governor, Democrat Gray Davis, refused to appeal a judicial decision that struck down most of the law. Even though short-lived, the legislation paved the way for harsher immigration laws to come. On the other hand, the strong reaction from the Hispanic community and immigration advocates propelled a drive for naturalization of legal residents and created as many as one million new voters.

  • The Worst: Arizona SB 1070

    The Arizona Act made it a misdemeanor for an undocumented immigrant to be within the state lines of Arizona without legal documents allowing their presence in the U.S. This law has been widely criticized as xenophobic and for encouraging racial profiling. It requires state authorities to inquire about an individual's immigration status during an arrest when there is "reasonable suspicion" that the individual is undocumented. The law would allow police to detain anyone who they believe was in the country illegally. <strong>Status:</strong> The law was signed into law by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer on April 23, 2010. But it has generated a swirl of controversy and questions about its constitutionality. A federal judge issued a ruling that blocked what critics saw as some of the law's harshest provisions. House: 35-31 (4/12/2011)

  • Following Arizona's Footsteps: Georgia HB 87

    The controversy over Arizona's immigration law was followed by heated debate over Georgia's own law. HB 87 required government agencies and private companies to check the immigration status of applicants. This law also limited some government benefits to people who could prove their legal status. <strong>Status:</strong> Although a federal judge temporarily blocked parts of the law considered too extreme, it went into effect on July 1st. 2011. House: 113-56 Senate: 39-17

  • Verifying Authorized Workers: Pennsylvania HB 1502

    This bill, which was approved in 2010, bans contractors and subcontractors employ undocumented workers from having state construction contracts. The bill also protects employees who report construction sites that hire illegal workers. To ensure that contractors hire legal workers, the law requires employers to use the identification verification system E-verify, based on a compilation of legally issued Social Security numbers. <strong>Status:</strong> Approved on June 8th 2010. House: 188-6 (07/08/2010) <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/donkeyhotey/" target="_hplink">Flickr photo by DonkeyHotey</a>

  • A Spin Off of Arizona: Utah HB 497

    Many states tried to emulate Arizona's SB 1070 law. However, most state legislatures voted against the proposals. Utah's legislature managed to approve an immigration law based on a different argument. Taking into consideration the criticism of racial profiling in Arizona, Utah required ID cards for "guest workers" and their families. In order to get such a card workers must pay a fee and have clean records. The fees go up to $2,500 for immigrants who entered the country illegally and $1,000 for immigrants who entered the country legally but were not complying with federal immigration law, <a href="http://articles.latimes.com/2011/mar/06/nation/la-na-illegal-immigration-20110306" target="_hplink">according to the LA Times.</a> <strong>Status: </strong> Law went into effect on 03/15/2011 House: 59-15 (03/04/2011) Senate: 22-5 (03/04/2011)

  • The Most Comprehensive: Florida HB-1C

    Florida's immigration law prohibits any restrictions on the enforcement of federal immigration law. It makes it unlawful for undocumented immigrants within the state to apply for work or work as an independent contractor. It forbids employers from hiring immigrants if they are aware of their illegal status and requires work applicants to go through the E-verify system in order to check their Social Security number. <strong>Status: </strong>effective since October 1st, 2010

  • The Hot Seat: Alabama HB 56

    The new immigration law in Alabama is considered the toughest in the land, even harder than Arizona's SB 1070. It prohibits law enforcement officers from releasing an arrested person before his or her immigration status is determined. It does not allow undocumented immigrants to receive any state benefit, and prohibits them from enrolling in public colleges, applying for work or soliciting work in a public space. The law also prohibits landlords from renting property to undocumented immigrants, and employers from hiring them. It requires residents to prove they are citizens before they become eligible to vote. The law asked every school in the state to submit an annual report with the number of presumed undocumented students, but this part, along with others, were suspended by federal courts. <strong>Status:</strong> Approved June 2nd, 2011 House: 73-28 (04/05/2011) Senate: 23-11 (05/05/2011) <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/longislandwins/" target="_hplink">Flickr photo by longislandwins</a>