Monday, December 12, 2011

Arizona’s Immigration Law Gets to the Supremes

In a decision that should cheer those who believe in the rule of law and want to see our federal immigration laws enforced (despite all of the efforts of the Obama Administration to prevent that from happening), the Supreme Court today accepted Arizona’s petition for certiorari in the lawsuit filed against the state’s immigration law by the Justice Department. That means that the Supreme Court will make the final decision on whether Arizona’s law (SB 1070) is constitutional.

SB 1070, which has served as a model for other states such as Alabama and South Carolina, has a number of provisions that attempt to help the federal government enforce immigration requirements. The most controversial, at least from the standpoint of the Obama Administration, is a provision that requires police officers to check on the immigration status of individuals they have arrested or detained for some other violation, if the officers have a reasonable suspicion the individuals are in the country illegally. Race and ethnicity cannot be a consideration in that determination.

In a badly reasoned decision, a federal judge in Arizona issued an injunction against that requirement. The judge essentially ignored a provision of federal law that specifically requires the federal government to respond to all inquiries from federal, state, or local officials about the immigration status of any individual and the fact that Congress funds a “Law Enforcement Support Center” administered by the Department of Homeland Security to provide alien status determinations to state and local law enforcement officials 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. There is even another provision in federal law that encourages states “to cooperate with the Attorney General in the identification, apprehension, detention, or removal of aliens not lawfully present in the United States.”

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