The Rev. Andy Burnette, minister of Valley Unitarian Universalist in Chandler, Arizona, and a trustee on the Board of Trustees of the Unitarian Universalist Association, has joined a lawsuit against Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and others for targeting undocumented workers and charging them with felony identity theft if they are using false Social Security numbers.
“The reason I’m joining is that this is both immoral and illegal, these workplace raids that are criminalizing working,” said Burnette, who also objects to the sheriff using taxpayer funds to try to assert local jurisdiction over a federal issue, immigration. “It’s breaking up families, and it’s horrifying.”
The lawsuit, Puente v. Arpaio, was filed last year by a number of plaintiffs, including the Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray, lead minister of the UU Congregation of Phoenix. The case is challenging two state laws focused on targeting undocumented workers for identity theft. It survived a motion to dismiss by the defendants and is currently in the discovery phase and isn’t expected to go to trial anytime soon, Burnette said. A Presbyterian minister also joined the lawsuit as a new plaintiff along with Burnette.
Burnette doesn’t know of any undocumented people in his congregation, but he added that “these raids and the criminalization of work makes it almost impossible for people to be honest” about their immigration status.