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On June 25 the United States Supreme Court issued a ruling rejecting most of the Arizona immigration law, known as SB1010. The only part of the law now remaining is the section that allows state and local officials to check the status of people who they have stopped or detained as long as they have “reasonable suspicion” that these individuals are in the country illegally.
One of the parts rejected by the Supreme Court includes making it illegal for illegal immigrants to not have a federal registration card which is already a misdemeanor nationally. SCOTUS also rejected the part of the law that made it illegal for illegals to work, apply for work, or to try to solicit work. SCOTUS also announced that allowing state and local officials to arrest illegals without warrant because they have committed “any public offense that makes the person removable from the United States” is no longer allowed as a part of the law.
Now the law states that officers must check with immigration officials before holding immigrants for reasons other than committing a crime. Arizona law enforcement can notify the federal officials about the suspected illegal status but cannot detain them in jail or charge them for their illegal status. However, while law enforcement cannot hold someone because they are illegal, while the officials are trying to determine the status of an individuals the amount of time they are detained cannot be determined. Kennedy, in the majority opinion, states, “it is not clear at this stage and on this record that the verification process would result in prolonged detention.”
Justice Kennedy delivered the majority opinion. Kennedy stated, “this authority rests, in part, on the National Government’s constitutional power to ‘establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization’ and its inherent power as sovereign to control and conduct relations with foreign nations…the federal power to determine immigration policy is well settled.” Further in the opinion Kennedy elaborates on this aspect of the problematic law: “[this law] would allow the State to achieve its own immigration policy. The result could be unnecessary harassment of some aliens…whom federal officials determine should not be removed. This is not the system Congress created.”
Yet Kennedy acknowledged the problems that Arizona is having stating, “Statistics alone do not capture the full extent of Arizona’s concerns.”
Arizona’s state government claims that it made the law because the federal government has failed to control immigration into the state. Arizona has had to deal with high costs of education and care of immigrants in recent years. The state government believes that this law would empower law enforcement to be able to deal with the immigration problems. Additionally, the law forced the federal government to face the problem of immigration.
However, opponents of the law stated that it criminalized law-abiding people because of their statuses. There was also the worry that the law would lead to racial profiling of legal Hispanics. In his majority decision Kennedy echoed a similar sentiment stating, “discretion in the enforcement of immigration law embraces immediate human concerns. Unauthorized workers trying to support their families, for example, likely pose less danger than alien smugglers or aliens who commit a serious crime. The equities of an individual case may turn on many factors, including whether the alien has children born in the United States, long ties to the community, or a record of distinguished military service.”
Justices Scalia, Alito, and Thomas delivered their own concurring and dissenting opinions. Scalia stated in his opinion, “as a sovereign, Arizona has the inherent power to exclude persons from its territory, subject only to those limitations expressed in the Constitution or constitutionally imposed by Congress.” Thomas supported Scalia and writes, “I agree with Justice Scalia that federal immigration law does not pre-empt any of the challenged provisions of S.B. 1070. I reach that conclusion, however, for the simple reason that there is no conflict between the “ordinary meaning” of the relevant federal laws and that of the four provisions of Arizona law at issue here.”
This decision will highly impact the creation of similar laws in Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, South Carolina, and Utah.
After the Arizona law was passed Obama stated that the law, “threatened to undermine basic notions of fairness that we cherish as Americans” and sued the state of Arizona for overstepping its sovereign rights of the federal government. Oral arguments were heard in front of the Supreme Court on April 25, 2012.
Mitt Romney claimed to support the law and would have dropped the lawsuit against Arizona. According to USA Today Romney would then adopt the idea from Arizona of making life so difficult for immigrants that they self-deport.