Published June 25, 2012
| Fox News Latino
Perspectives on the surprise Supreme Court decision striking down three of four provisions of Arizona's controversial immigration law --SB 1070-- were mixed.
Some analysts focused on the upholding of a federal government prerogative over immigration law. Fox News Senior Judicial Analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano said: "The heart and soul of the Arizona statute has been struck down by the Supreme Court, consistent with previous Supreme Court opinions that basically say for better or for worse whether you like it or not immigration is a federal issue to be administered by the United States of America by the federal government and not by the states.”
Others stressed the one provision left standing by the High Court --the highly controversial "show me your papers" provision of the law requiring state and local police to perform roadside immigration checks if a "reasonable suspicion" exists that someone is in the country illegally.
“Today’s ruling marks a dark day for justice in the history of the United States of America," said Angelica Salas, executive director for the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA), a regional organization with national impact focused on immigrant and civil rights. "In one sweep, the Supreme Court has sided with Arizona and allowed racial profiling as an acceptable law enforcement tool."
The court essentially weighed whether in passing its own immigration law, Arizona was overstepping its bounds in what traditionally has been a federal matter. Arizona lawmakers said that the federal government had failed in its responsibility to secure the borders and control illegal immigration, and that states -- particularly those on the border -- were forced to deal with the consequences of people living here unlawfully and usurping state resources.
An estimated 11 million people live in the United States illegally -- most of them are Latinos and roughly half are visa overstays.
Arizona's move toward implementing its own immigration law set in motion similar efforts by lawmakers in other states frustrated by illegal immigration. But while some voted on and passed measures seeking to drive out undocumented immigrants, other states put their measures on hold, concerned about overwhelming legal challenges.
In this case, however, the court in its decision indicated that this provision would face further scrutiny.
Since passage in 2010, Arizona's SB1070, has become both a flashpoint for the national debate over immigration and enforcement. The law served as a blueprint for similar laws in other states, including Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, South Carolina and Utah. Courts have blocked implementation of parts of those states' laws pending a decision by the Supreme Court on Arizona's measure.
It also sealed the issue of immigration as an election-year issue, prompting both President Obama and the GOP presidential nominees to take positions on Arizona's law -- they nearly all supported it -- during the extended primary. At one point during the primary, Mitt Romney, now the expected GOP presidential nominee, drew fire when he described Arizona's law as a national model.
Later, Romney -- whose support of Arizona's law and hard line positions on immigration have aliented many Latinos -- said he had not meant that all of SB 1070 was a national model, just its E-Verify component, which requires employers to make sure their workers are eligible to work in the United States.
Critics of the law, including Latino rights organizations who feared racial profiling as a result of the enforcement measures, called for an business boycott of Arizona in protest.
Proponents of strict immigration enforcement praised the High Court’s support for police checks of immigration status.
“The United States Supreme Court has made it very clear that state and local governments have an important role to play in enforcing federal immigration laws,” said Dan Stein, executive director of Federation for American Immigration Reform. “Even if the Obama administration refuses to enforce most immigration laws, states have the power to deter and discourage illegal aliens from settling or remaining within their jurisdictions.”
Hispanic Leadership Network Executive Director Jennifer Korn said federal inaction on illegal immigration had forced Arizona and other states to take the matter into their own hands.
"The blame for inaction cannot be placed on either political party, but on forces within both parties,” Korn said. “It’s unfortunate and undisputable that during the first two years of this Administration, the President and a Democrat-controlled Congress had the opportunity to push through immigration reform, but chose not to. It’s disappointing that this President only talks about immigration when it is politically convenient for him.”
But rearding authority over immigration, Arizona clearly lost. According to Fox News' Napolitano: “Basically the court is saying to those in Arizona who are understandably unhappy with the administration of immigration law by this administration, if you don’t like it -- vote them out of office but don’t try to change the law because you are essentially without authority or sovereignty to do that.”