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January 26, 2015

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Supreme Court nixes much of Arizona immigration law


Ross D. Franklin / AP

Maria Durand, left, and Rosa Maria Soto, both from Arizona, cheer as the U.S. Supreme Court decision regarding Arizona’s controversial immigration law, SB1070, comes down at the Arizona Capitol on Monday, June 25, 2012, in Phoenix. The Supreme Court struck down key provisions of Arizona’s crackdown on immigrants Monday but said a much-debated portion on checking suspects’ status could go forward.

Updated Monday, June 25, 2012 | 9:44 a.m.

Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney

Harry Reid

Harry Reid

The Arizona law that had come to define the state of immigration politics in the West has been largely neutered, after the Supreme Court struck down its most contested provisions this morning.

Five Justices ruled that Arizona overstepped its state authority to involve itself in federal affairs in three of four contested sections of the law under which state authorities sought to step up arrests and criminal processing of undocumented immigrants.

“If the federal government won’t enforce its immigration laws, we will,” Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer said.

But in its zeal, Arizona overreached on matters concerning identification requirements, work authorization, and arrests, the Supreme Court said.

Two of the sections the Supreme Court struck down concerned Arizona’s lack of respect for the difference between civil and criminal penalties in immigration infractions.

Part of the law made it a misdemeanor for undocumented immigrants to not comply with rules that require foreign nationals to register with the federal government and produce documentation of that registration.

The law also made it a misdemeanor for an immigrant without work authorization to try to work.

But as Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the court’s opinion: “Removal is a civil, not a criminal matter.”

The federal law only imposes civil penalties — including deportation — for not having the proper registration paperwork. And while Immigration, Customs and Enforcement often pursues criminal charges on the back of workplace violations, it’s never against the employees. Only employers of undocumented workers can be subject to criminal prosecution.

For the undocumented workers, it is a civil process, usually one that goes through the administrative immigration courts and ultimately can result in deportation.

The court also ruled that a section of the law that allows officers to arrest undocumented immigrants without a warrant flew in the face of federal law. Under federal law, officers can only make immigration-related arrests without a warrant in situations where the person in question “is likely to escape before a warrant can be obtained.”

The federal law trumps state law.

The court, however, upheld a part of the law that requires state police to check the immigration status of people taken in custody. Justices were not swayed by arguments from the federal government that this could result in unfairly long detentions as individuals waited to be processed.

Ultimately, Kennedy wrote, the justices refused to strike down the immigration status check because the lower courts haven’t yet ruled on it, and before that happens, it would be premature for the Supreme Court to consider how it might be applied.

Three judges dissented.

Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas said they would have upheld all contested sections of the Arizona law, while Justice Samuel Alito argued for preserving the sections that made working a criminal misdemeanor and allowed for warrantless arrests. He would have struck down the alien registration/card-carry misdemeanor.

Now that the Supreme Court has ruled, the Arizona immigration law will reenter the court of public opinion, where it still has the potential to influence votes in an election year.

Some lawmakers have already jumped into the fray.

“The Supreme Court was right to strike down the vast majority of the Arizona law,” Nevada Sen. Harry Reid said in a statement.

He expressed lingering concerns, however, about immigration status checks, lest people be indefinitely detained while officers try to track down their status.

“I am greatly concerned that the provision...will lead to a system of racial profiling. This is a strong reminder that ultimately, the responsibility for fixing our nation’s broken immigration system lies with Congress,” Reid said.

Meanwhile Arizona’s two Republican senators spun the piece the Supreme Court did upheld as a win.

“Today’s ruling appears to validate a key component of Arizona’s immigration law,” Sens. Jon Kyl and John McCain said in a joint statement. “The Arizona law was born out of the state’s frustration with the burdens that illegal immigration and continued drug smuggling impose on its schools, hospitals, criminal justice system and fragile desert environment, and an administration that chooses to set enforcement policies based on a political agenda.”

President Barack Obama, who opposes the Arizona law, applauded the decision but echoed Reid’s concerns about the potential for racial profiling. He used the ruling to plug his recent promise of work visas for undocumented young people and the cause of comprehensive immigration reform in Congress.

“No American should ever live under a cloud of suspicion just because of what they look like,” Obama said. “What makes us American is not a question of what we look like or what our names are.”

His Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, who has supported the law and is in Arizona today, accused Obama of weak leadership.

“Today’s decision underscores the need for a President who will lead on this critical issue and work in a bipartisan fashion to pursue a national immigration strategy. President Obama has failed to provide any leadership on immigration,” Romney said in a statement. “I believe that each state has the duty — and the right — to secure our borders and preserve the rule of law, particularly when the federal government has failed to meet its responsibilities.”

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  1. It's quite interesting that the ruling is different from one newspaper to the next. The Gov. of Arizona thinks they won and Mr. Obama thinks he won...
    I think the Supreme Court pointed Arizona in the direction of changing laws so Arizona and others can get the desired result.
    It's not over, especially if Mr. Obama is successful in November.

  2. I don't understand why BeSafer thought this was the "meat and potatoes" of the law.
    There is something about this provision that has nothing to do with traffic stops or racial profiling..
    I know the illegal immigration sites are calling this a huge victory..
    Be Safer..can you tell us why?

  3. Maybe this article will help...

  4. GREAT.....the cartels control our southern border, Obamnisty gives all existing illegal children citizenship.....and we the LEGAL citizens (YES of LEGAL immigrants (but again that pesky LEGAL word)) are expected to foot this additional revenue drain... because of an administration that is using latch ditch efforts to firm up a vote....Mr. Prez, I don't think it had the desired affect as my Naturalized Latino neighbors are NONE TO HAPPY EITHER. Seems regardless of what your roots are, this has not been a popular choice if you took the effort and did it right and came in legally. I have no problem with immigration. When the major migration of Europeans came to the US in the latter 1800's and early 1900's, industry needed the manpower and expertise. Now the country is on life support and we have just thrown open the borders. GREAT

    .......even the Dalai Llama stated that the individual countries are NOT the property of the government but of the citizens (that word again). We as citizens of the United States have just been reduced the level of common peasants (serving our politicians, instead of the way it should be - by organizing and removing the incumbents from their ivory towers).

    The bright side to the whole equation is that us PO' WHITE FOLK will be the minority in 5 or 10 years, and then we get to sit back and make the same baseless discrimination claims. We shall see what it is like to have the shoe on the other foot. A retired minority veteran.... hmmmm...... maybe I will suck up a bit of SS before our stellar government misappropriates THOSE funds for god knows what.

    Folks, the Government is not a question of who is President, is a question of who is in the House and Senate, and until term limits are enacted........IT AINT GONNA GET NO BETTER regardless of which party is in office/control.

  5. This is a win for those who believe in the rule of law. Illegals will now find themselves losing their jobs because they get locked up for a few days waiting for immigration to pick them up. The fact immigration won't pick them up is besides the point. The point is that the cops can now ask someone for papers, and if they are illegal, they can lock them up for who knows how long. Once Obama is out of office, the gov will deport these criminals. Until then, we'll just have to settle for harassing these illegals and making their life miserable, making it hard for them to hold a job. Why not? Same end result. More than one way to skin a cat as they say.

  6. Mr. Obama is like a child when he loses....

  7. Removal is civil not criminal but no ruling on who is "entitled" to deportation time and money. Hint to Arizona: just EXPEL THE ILLEGALS once you locate them--if they cannot show they entered the country legally, send them back the same way, without paperwork--and then you won't have to wait for ICE to pick them up. IF they entered on a Visa and overstayed, deportation seems to still be required. It remains illegal for employers to hire illegals, for illegals to use FORGED documentation.... Racial profiling doesn't bother me at all--seems to be a cost-effective means of identifying illegals--language and accents are other clues--you don't speak English well and/or you have a pronounced accent, let's see the paperwork. (And again, I'm of mixed race and don't mind being asked for paperwork--I have it all.) As a taxpayer, I prefer law enforcement using logical means to hone in on the lawbreakers and skip most of the rest of us.
    Concerning the fed law overriding state on several issues: Can MEDIA EXPLAIN how a single crime can violate a federal murder statute AND a state one so why not being here illegally? Or, did the Arizona attorney just fail to bring that up?
    psst: BC how does another wrong, correct the first wrong? And do you think there is no "racial profiling" in Mexico?

  8. Mitt is at his belligerent best. His approach is to bring the hammer down, which he claims is showing leadership.

    Mexico is suffering it's worst drought in 71 years, particularly in the Northern States. It's all over the news. See in particular:

    There is a lot we could do to boost their economy. They are coming here because of a natural tragedy that is occurring. With a small chunk of cash spent on crop and industry development we could do a lot of good.

    They are coming here to save themselves, not to take over America. $1 million could restore much needed agriculture but unfortunately, the conservative response is guns, guards, helicopters and fences. $1 million/mile for the fence alone.

    The Agave and Opuntia are known to produce prolific quantities of ethanol for industry, biofuels and home products. The plants also produce fiber, food and forage for renewable industries. The are also native plants of North America and thrive in hostile environments.

    This is all public knowledge but what I have seen is that research money is never used for feasible, proven results. If it works, the researchers don't want it - they want to diddle instead.

    Unfortunately, Mitt doesn't like renewable industries, negotiations or diplomacy. He doesn't like to solve problems with solutions, he would rather eliminate Government aid and bring the Government hammer down instead.

  9. What I forgot to add is that in particular, the researchers at DRI, Desert Research Institute, are among the diddlers.

    They are busy with work and presentations on 'algae for biodiesel'. The yield predictions are about 10x over the maximum theoretical given by biology and radiometry. The result is that it takes more energy to keep the water mixing all year long in the tubes and channels then is harvested. Algae is NOT carbon neutral.

    Agave and Opuntia can build tremendous industries in Mexico and can contribute to a strong economy there. Fences have never saved civilizations, they only buy a little more time. Strong economies on the other hand, last a lot longer then tall fences.

  10. Gotta laugh @ the TeaPublican responses above...

    You guys are hilarious; and not real nice, which is why I won't spend a NICKEL in AZ...
    With awful human beings like Jan Brewer & Joe Arpaio running the show and acting like damned fools, NOT A NICKEL!!!

  11. Becker, give us a break! We are under no obligation to "save" Mexico. It's a country blessed with an abundance of natural resources not the least of which is oil. The problem with Mexico isn't the USA; it's Mexico itself: its rampant corruption; it's eons of neglecting its own people (unless, of course, they are among the favored few); its misuse of those God-given natural resources; and its unwillingness to educate its people (keeping them ignorant is one way to keep them in line). Mexico needn't be a "Third World" country but years of theft, avarice and neglect have made it so. It's up to the Mexican people to change the system that works against them. Until they do it's "tough luck, Charlie!"

  12. If you want to see this last part of the law dismissed then I would suggest the following actions.
    If someone is stopped by a law enforcement officer in Arizona they should start talking with an accent. Then ask the officer to ask them for their papers . Not having them would force the officer to arrest them.
    Lets see how long this racial profiling law would last if average white guys are being arrested.

  13. I notice the pterydactyl lady (Brewer) is taking victory laps. And this is after most of the law was overturned.

    For the next couple of days, my cat will be scared to death.

    Everytime Brewer shows up on the news, she scampers and hides under the couch.

    All because of this U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

    I swear the Supreme Court Justices hate my cat and they collectively want to torment her....

    She doesn't react like that to Arpaio though. She can tell he's a lightweight and a blowhard....

  14. It was said that Mexico is a "third world" country. That is incorrect. Mexico is considered an "emerging" country.

    Naturalized citizens whose native language is not English, and who came to this country as adults, don't usually lose their accent, even if they speak multiple languages including English.

    Naturalized citizens with multiple shades of skin color don't turn white when they become citizens.

    Additionally, when someone becomes a naturalized citizen they are issue a letter size or larger certificate. That certificate is not permitted to be photocopied or given to anyone. If it is misplaced there is a cost and time to get another one and you have no proof of citizenship until you get a replacement. It would be nice if the government issued a wallet size card that citizens could carry with them.

    Stopping people on the basis of accent and/or skin shade is profiling and illegal.

    I think everyone, regardless of race, skin color, or accent should be able to prove their citizenship status at all times, anywhere, to anyone who questions them. Can you?

    So, why not have a wallet sized national identity booklet that would not only be used for an ID, but be stamped for all official actions in the US. That would include births, marriage, voter registration, current address, citizenship validation, work permits, driver's license, etc.

    This could be used as identification in place of a social security card, which is not supposed to be used for an ID. It should have a different ID number and not have the Social Security number used as identification. It should also contain a photo that would be updated at regular intervals, like a driver's license is.

    I don't think my social security number should be floating around the world, sold by banks, used to track me by a doctor's office, for business accounts, or any other use. Let that number stay private. It would reduce ID theft and the financial consequences. A national ID could be completely separate from any link to our financial information.

    If everyone had to have such an ID, there would be no issue of carving out one group over another. It would apply to all, presented to authorities for all kinds of reasons including traffic stops.

    What is good for one is good for all.

  15. One way to stop undocumented worker's from entering the country is for American business to stop hiring them.

    There are ways to verify status with the government.

    I am an anglo citizen by birth and I was still required to present an ID to my large corporate employer to be verified by the government. There was no discrimination, everyone had to do it.

    When the ID of anyone didn't pan out to verify citizenship or legal documentation, the employee was terminated.