June 26, 2012
The Supreme Court partially struck down Arizona’s immigration law yesterday.
The Court found that three provisions, which regulated alien registration, illegal aliens seeking employment, and arrest of individuals based upon possible removability, were preempted by federal law.
But importantly, by an 8-0 vote, the court upheld the power of state law enforcement officers to check the immigration status of those who have been stopped or detained for a lawful purpose. Justice Elena Kagan was recused.
These decisions come at a time when the immigration debate is heating up. Heritage Foundation legal scholar John G. Malcolm writes on why immigration enforcement is critical to Arizona and other U.S. border states,
Arizona and other border states bear the largest burden when immigration laws are not enforced federally or when rules are overlooked. And the burden is significant. There are 2,000 miles along the southwest border, 370 of which adjoin Arizona. Illegal entries and border smuggling by “coyotes” are rampant, with an accompanying influx of drugs, dangerous criminals, and vulnerable people (who often end up as victims of human trafficking). Between 2006 and 2010, in the border town of Nogales alone, 51 drug smuggling tunnels were discovered. Home invasions and kidnappings are common in Arizona.
The Obama administration has already raised objections to the ruling, and plans a frontal assault on the remainder of the legislation. Although the Arizona law explicitly prohibits racial profiling, President Obama said yesterday that “no American should ever live under a cloud of suspicion just because of what they look like.”
The ruling limits the President’s authority to issue executive orders to prevent states from participating in immigration verification processes. “The President may disagree,” Malcolm explains, “but for his disagreement to actually have the force of law, he will have to persuade members of Congress—a refreshing change for a President who has seen fit to go it alone far too frequently.”
What do you think of the President’s response to the SCOTUS ruling?