In Immigration Policy; Was Mostly Upheld

Article excerpt


Reporters and pundits don't always get it right. Take the Supreme Court's decision on Arizona's immigration law.

Many media outlets said the court struck down most of the law. In reality, nearly all of the law had already been upheld in a federal district court ruling. Only four provisions remained at issue before the Supreme Court.

The high court wound up throwing out three of those provisions, giving the administration a mathematical victory perhaps. But the court firmly upheld the fourth provision, which Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer correctly called the heart of the law. That provision allows Arizona law enforcement personnel, once they've arrested someone, to check the suspect's immigration status if they have a reasonable suspicion that he is in the country illegally.

But checking the immigration status of arrestees is not all Arizona - or any other state - can do to combat the problems created by illegal immigration. Those other initiatives that passed muster in district court remain valid, too.

One provision bars state or local officials from implementing policy that impedes enforcement of federal immigration laws. So, unlike California and New York, there will be no sanctuary cities in Arizona.

Another provision assures that state and local officials will cooperate fully with agencies trying to determine an applicant's eligibility for welfare and other public benefits, providing all available information about the applicant's immigration status. They must also provide the information to verify residency claims or eligibility for licenses.

Cracking down on illegal day-labor spots, the law makes it a misdemeanor for drivers to block or impede traffic while trying to hire or pick up passengers for transportation to a worksite.

Another provision makes it a felony to intentionally engage in the smuggling of human beings for profit or commercial purpose. The law defines smuggling quite broadly to include transporting anyone who a driver knows or has reason to know is not in the country legally. The state may also impound vehicles used for this purpose.

The state statute even manages to put a little pressure on the feds to enforce their own federal law. Now, once an illegal immigrant completes a prison sentence for violating a state law, Arizona officials will notify immigration authorities of his pending release. …