Supreme Court open to Arizona’s controversial immigration law?

Apr 25, 2012

U.S. Border Patrol Monitors Vast Border With Mexico

The Tucson sector of the U.S.- Mexico border is considered the most heavily trafficked by illegal immigrants and drug smugglers in the United States. Credit: John Moore/Getty Images

Justices at the Court picked apart the Obama administration’s arguments against Arizona’s controversial immigration law today.

As reports, Conservative Justice Antonin Scalia was “pushing the radical idea that the Constitution gives states the clear authority to close their border entirely to immigrants without a legal right to be in the U.S.” With Justice Elena Kagan recused, the seven other justices tried to square state rights with federal jurisdiction over immigration laws.

Myriad reporters and analysts who listened to this morning’s arguments believe the Court sounds ready to accept some key provisions of S.B. 1070.

The provisions being considered are as follows: 1. requires Arizona law enforcement officers to question individuals believed to be undocumented; 2. makes it a state crime when an immigrant fails to carry their “papers”; 3. makes it a state crime for undocumented immigrants to work; 4. grants police power to make a warrantless arrest if they believe someone has committed a deportable crime.

The overall goal of S.B. 1070 is to encourage illegal immigrants to show themselves out – a notion dubbed as “self-deportation.” Five other states followed Arizona’s lead in 2011 – Georgia, Utah, Alabama, Indiana and South Carolina – albeit with limited success in the lower courts. This Supreme Court decision could bolster or quash that trend.

How strong were the arguments from both sides in the courtroom today? What incisive questions came from the bench? How would this ruling affect the rest of the country? What are the political implications during this election year? Why are some states cracking down on illegal immigrants? How does that fit the historical picture of the United States’ relationship with migrants?


Kitty Felde, KPCC Washington Correspondent

Ira Mehlman, Spokesperson, Federation for American Immigration Reform

Hector Villagra, Executive Director, ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) of Southern California

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