The Supreme Court's decision Monday to strike down much of Arizona's SB 1070 immigration law sets a precedent for Georgia, Alabama and South Carolina, which were the first states to enact similar laws to combat undocumented immigrations.
"This decision is a very clear notice from the Supreme Court to other states that have approved laws like Arizona's that they are violating federal authority to create and implement immigration laws," attorney Nora Preciado of the National Immigration Law Center, one of the organizations involved in the lawsuit against Alabama's HB 56, told Efe.
Preciado said that despite the Supreme Court leaving intact the provision allowing law enforcement to investigate the immigration status of anyone they stop, it "left the door open" to more legal action if the legislation leads to racial profiling.
HB 56, which took effect last September, is considered one of the toughest in the country.
Besides an Arizona-style "show me your papers" regulation, the Alabama law penalizes anyone providing transportation for an undocumented person, demands that public schools determine the immigration status of students and denies undocumented students access to higher education.
The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta has a decision pending on the immigration laws of Georgia and Alabama, and in its latest hearing decided to wait for the Supreme Court's ruling on SB 1070.
"In the case of Georgia nothing will immediately change because until the Court of Appeals makes its ruling, the provisions of the Georgia law similar to 'show me your papers' will continue to be blocked," Azadeh Shahshahani, the National Security/Immigrants' Rights Project director with the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia, told Efe.
Georgia's HB 87 law took effect on July 1, 2011, lacking several of its most controversial articles, including the one that allows authorities to question people about their immigration status when "probable cause" exists to suspect they are in the country illegally.
In South Carolina the Supreme Court decision was received grimly by Hispanic leaders.
In that state, law SB 20 copied some of the provisions of Arizona's SB 1070, but was partly blocked last December by a federal district judge in Charleston.
Roberto Belen, one of the plaintiffs against SB 20, said the Supreme Court verdict "tolerates racial profiling" by allowing police to ask for the papers of anyone for whom "probable cause" exists to suspect they are in the country illegally.
Ivan Segura of the Council of Mexicans in the Carolinas said that Monday's decision "should serve to drive immigration reform that will avoid litigation in the courts."
Several articles of SB 20 were left pending a verdict based on the Supreme Court ruling.
The measure, which went into effect on Jan. 1, was challenged in the courts by the federal government, the ACLU and other organizations defending immigrant rights.
In 2008, before the Arizona law was enacted, South Carolina passed a severe law banning the enrollment of undocumented students in state-funded universities, and imposed penalties on companies that failed to check the immigration status of job applicants. EFE