Arizona’s contentious 2010 immigration law, which allowed police to detain individuals they believed were residing in the United States illegally, has been upheld by the Supreme Court. According to the New York Times, the justices were split on three of the law’s provisions, but the main feature, the “show me your papers” provision”, was reinstated to unanimous 8-0 vote.
Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote that the federal law’s power and obligation in regulating the country’s immigration policy meant that parts of the Arizona state law could not be imposed. “With power comes responsibility, and the sound exercise of national power over immigration depends on the nation’s meeting its responsibility to base its laws on a political will informed by searching, thoughtful, rational civic discourse,” Kennedy stated, who was backed by justices John Roberts, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, and Sonia Sotomayor. Justice Elena Kagan abstained from the case.
Although the law is still partially in place, The National Journal reports that,
Arizona cannot implement the rest of the law, including a provision that would have allowed police officers to arrest a suspect without a warrant if they have probable cause to believe that the person “committed any public offense that makes that person removable from the United States.” Arizona argued that the provision was basic common sense.
With the ability to check immigration status and apprehend people who are in the country illegally, local officers could take illegal immigrants into their detention facilities on routine pullovers without having to wait for federal agents to show up. Police officers say that sometimes they wait for hours for immigration officers because they can’t detain these people on their own. The justices said that provision imposes on federal law and noted that, in general, it is not a crime to be in the country without documents.
The Supreme Court’s act in regards to the law has elicited a mixed reaction from the Obama administration. Reuters reports that the president released a statement saying he was “pleased that the Supreme Court has struck down key provisions” of the law, but still expressed apprehension over the “civil rights of Americans”. “No American should ever live under a cloud of suspicion just because of what they look like,” he stated.
Romney, a supporter of immigration laws, has criticized Obama regarding the issue. In his own statement, Romney said that the Supreme Court’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”. Though Romney does not agree with Obama’s stance on immigration, polls show that his own views are not very popular among Hispanic and Latino voters.