The Supreme Court ruled on Arizona v. United States today, and it’s a mixed bag for immigration supporters. As the NYT reports, the good news is that
- …Important provisions of the law conflicted with federal laws, the court found, rejecting provisions that made it a state crime for immigrants not to register with the federal government or to seek or hold jobs without proper documents, and allowing warrantless arrests of some people suspected of being deportable.
The BAD News
The bad news: “federal law did not pre-empt the state’s instruction to its police to check the immigration status of people they detain.” In other words, anyone who has a run-in with law enforcement can have their immigration status checked. In other words, the “show me your papers” provision remains intact.
Requiring state and local law enforcement to investigate immigration status not only puts unnecessary fiscal pressure on state and local law enforcement, it will naturally lead to racial profiling.
SB1070 does not indicate how a law enforcement officer could possibly determine an individual’s immigration status merely by looking at him/her. How does one look “illegal?”
The GOOD News
The ruling is not set in stone; it can still be challenged on the basis of racial or ethnic discrimination against certain groups, particularly minorities. But the justices unanimously upheld Arizona’s right to order immigration status checks.
That doesn’t mean a state has to conduct these status checks; it just has the legal right to do it. Some immigrant-friendly states will probably enact legislation to ban these kinds of status checks in their jurisdictions, but expect several others to now follow Arizona’s lead.
Mohammad Alhinnawi and Amira Al-Alami
The Law Office of Amira Al-Alami