ST. LOUIS - The Supreme Court decision this week to leave standing a key provision of Arizona's illegal immigration law has local advocates concerned that it could open the door to broader racial profiling laws around the country, including Missouri.
A coalition of agencies led by Missouri Immigrant and Refugee Advocates held a news conference Wednesday on the steps of the Thomas F. Eagleton U.S. Courthouse to respond to the high court's decision.
"We're pleased as punch" that almost all the law was thrown out, said Joan Suarez, chairman of MIRA, "but saddened they didn't take it one step further."
The provision the Supreme Court let stand says Arizona police must check the immigration status of those stopped for various reasons who might appear to be in the U.S. illegally.
Suarez said leaving that part of the law intact could lead to a great deal of racial profiling and "copycatting in a lot of states, including Missouri."
St. Louis County Police Chief Tim Fitch said the Arizona law doesn't clearly define what "reasonable suspicion" is for thinking someone might be in the country illegally.
"Is it dark skin? Is it an accent?" he said. "The court did not lay that out for law enforcement."
Fitch agrees that illegal immigration issues should be left to federal authorities. …