Supreme Court guts controversial immigration law
The Supreme Court Monday struck down most of a controversial Arizona immigration law in a split decision, while keeping its most hotly-contested provision in place.
The Court unanimously upheld the 2010 law’s centerpiece requiring that state law enforcement officials determine the immigration status of anyone they stop or arrest if there is reasonable suspicion to do so. Critics worry the provision will inevitably lead to racial profiling, calling it the “show me your papers” provision.
However, a majority of justices ruled that the law’s three other provisions, which would have imposed penalties on illegal immigrants for activities such as seeking work in Arizona, interfered with the federal government’s role in immigration.
“As a general rule, it is not a crime for a removable alien to be within the United States,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the majority.
The ruling is seen by many as a partial victory for President Barack Obama and the Justice Department, which opposed the controversial law and sued the state. Obama released a statement Monday praising the Court’s decision, while asking for more action from Congress on immigration.
“What this decision makes unmistakably clear is that Congress must act on comprehensive immigration reform,” Obama said in the statement. “A patchwork of state laws is not a solution to our broken immigration system — it’s part of the problem.”
Obama, coming off the heels of his recent decision to stop deportations of illegal immigrants who came to America as children, also expressed reservations about the law’s upheld provision.
“No American should ever live under a cloud of suspicion just because of what they look like,” Obama said, adding that steps must be taken to ensure Arizona law enforcement officials respect “the civil rights of Americans.”
Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney told a crowd of Republican donors in Arizona Monday that he is disappointed in the ruling.
“I would have preferred to see the Supreme Court give more latitude to the states, not less,” Romney said.
Romney also said Obama is to blame for a broken immigration system.
“He had a Democrat House and a Democrat Senate but he didn’t (pass immigration reform),” Romney said. “Isn’t it time for the American people to ask him why?”
This is not the only controversial ruling expected from the Supreme Court this week. A decision on the constitutionality of Obama’s signature health care reform law is expected on Thursday.
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