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Arizona will begin enforcing a provision that calls on police, when making lawful stops, to check the immigration status of people who may be in the country illegally.
Monday's ruling in Arizona vs. United States allows the state to begin enforcing the provision that says the police who lawfully stop persons should check their immigration status if there is reason to believe they are in the country illegally.
Opponents of this Arizona law said the so-called "show me your papers" provision will lead to racial profiling.
"I know they will not be using that kind of tactic on people with the last name Roberts, Romney, or Brewer, but if your name is something like Gutierrez or Chung or Obama, watch out," said Democratic Rep. Luis Gutierrez of Illinois, a member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.
"The express goal of the authors of Arizona's SB1070 is to make life miserable for immigrants so that they will leave, and a key tool in that effort was upheld by the court."
President Barack Obama also expressed concern over the immigration status checks allowed by Monday's ruling, saying they could lead to racial profiling.
"No American should ever live under a cloud of suspicion just because of what they look like," Obama said. "Going forward, we must ensure that Arizona law enforcement officials do not enforce this law in a manner that undermines the civil rights of Americans, as the court's decision recognizes."
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, meanwhile, declared the ruling a victory for her state, saying the "heart" of the law can now be implemented "in accordance with the U.S. Constitution."
The only positive:
The decision may be a partial, symbolic victory for Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, but it is a much bigger win for President Obama. His administration had sued to block the Arizona law from taking effect, and it prevailed on three of the four provisions under dispute.
The high court struck down parts of Arizona's SB 1070 that made it a state crime for illegal immigrants to seek work and to not to carry immigration papers. The justices also blocked a provision that gave the police authority to arrest immigrants for crimes that may lead to deportation.
"Federal law makes a single sovereign responsible for maintaining a comprehensive and unified system to keep track of aliens within the nation's borders,” Kennedy wrote. If Arizona could arrest and hold immigrants for not carrying papers, "every state could give itself independent authority to prosecute federal registration violations."
Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer, and Sonia Sotomayor joined with Kennedy in an opinion that appears to give states little new authority to enforce immigration law on their own.
Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. each filed dissents. Scalia went the furthest: "As a sovereign, Arizona has the inherent power to exclude persons from its territory."
Arizona adopted its strict law targeting illegal immigrants in 2010; since then, five other states -- Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, Indiana and Utah -- have adopted similar measures.
The Obama administration went to court and argued these state laws conflicted with the federal government's power to enforce the nation's immigration laws. A federal judge in Phoenix and the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals had blocked four key parts of Arizona's law from going into effect.
source: LA Times, CNN