Magazine article The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education

Experts Share Views on the Supreme Court and Arizona's Immigration Law

Magazine article The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education

Experts Share Views on the Supreme Court and Arizona's Immigration Law

Article excerpt

Two years ago, Arizona took the country by surprise when it passed tlic broadest and sbictest anti-illegal immigration measure in recent U.S. history. But the measure, despite setting a precedent for other states to follow, has only met with opposition that has. until recently, stalled any implementation of the law.

The greatest opposition came from the federal government, In a Supreme Court decision, Arizona v. United Stales, of June 25, 2012, this arm of the federal government ruled to block three of four of the state's main anti-illegal immigration provisions. The court let Arizona know that it had stepped on the federal government's toes, trying to enforce immigration laws that belong to it, Yet one provision of Arizona's law was accepted by the court, leaving the door open for further controversy around the state's immigration laws and those of other states considering doing the same.

"This law was passed because Arizona thought the federal government wasn't doing its job, hut the Supreme Court made it clear that the federal government should make policy decisions on how to enforce the law," said Barbara Hines, clinical professor and co-director of the Immigration Clinic at the University of Texas (UT) -Austin School of Law. "I am concerned, though, about the part of the law that was upheld."

The Supreme Court struck down the following provisions of Arizona SB 1070 because it felt die state was trying to do the federal government's job: It was a state misdemeanor crime for an alien to be in Arizona without carrying die required documents (U.S. federal law requires all aliens over the age of 14 who remain in the U.S. for longer dian 30 days to register with the U.S. government and lo have registration documents in their possession at all limes. The federal government has always been responsible lor enforcement oí this requirement) . The Arizona law also sought to make it a state crime for a uoncitizen to work without authorization, and to give state and local police officers more power than federal officers to arrest immigrants they believe are removable from the U.S.

The court did, however, allow Arizona to maintain one provision that reqLiires state law enforcement officers to attempt to determine an individual's immigration status during a "lawful stop, detention or arrest," or during a "lawful contact" not specific to any activity when there is reasonable suspicion that the individual is an illegal immigrant. Since, at the time of the Supreme Court decision, Arizona had yet to enact its law (until now it was blocked in higher courts from being implemented) , the argument was made that it was too early to determine whether the "show me your papers" provision was unconstitutional, and only once this law were to be enacted could tills be determined. "This opinion does not foreclose other preemption and constitutional challenges to the law as interpreted and applied after it goes into effect," stated the court.

When Arizona SB 1070 became law two years ago, Arturo Ríos, adjunct professor of law at Stetson University College of Law and attorney at Ríos Immigration Law Firm in Florida, was certain it could not pass muster. "This was an encroachment of federal law. ? was expecting a very stern, no-wigglcroom response from the Supreme Court."

"The outcome threw a lot of people," he added. "My biggest concern with the Supreme Court decision is die fact that mere is wiggle room and this will tempt other states to come up with their own version of the Arizona bill. Allowing a state to get involved in immigration issues is like having a police officer pull you over and ask you if you paid taxes."

While the higher court made it clear that the federal government was in charge of immigration, and not Arizona, Rfos and others are concerned that the bit they did accept will only lead to needless racial profiling of Hispanics and other groups who might be suspected of being illegal immigrants due to skin color,

He already gels calls every day from Hispanic, Hindu or bidian clients who are pulled over for speeding or running stop signs and are dien detained to local jails for not earning identification. …

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