The U.S. Supreme Court finally had their say, Monday, upholding the key portion of Arizona’s attempt to stop illegal immigrants flooding into their state. The high court rejected the Obama administration’s argument that the federal government should be the sole enforcer of immigration policy.
It was a severe setback for an administration that has been reeling with scandal and disappointments all month. All eyes are now focused on the court’s ruling this Thursday on the controversial and highly unpopular Obamacare.
Key Arizona Contention Upheld
In an opinion by Justice Anthony Kennedy, the nation’s highest court unanimously upheld Arizona’s contention, requiring police to verify the immigration status of people they stop.
However, in a split decision, the court also ruled that three other challenges to the law went too far, intruding on federal law. That included a provision that makes it a crime for illegal immigrants to hold a job and another requiring they hold legal documents at all times.
“Arizona may have understandable frustrations with the problems caused by illegal immigration, but the state may not pursue policies that undermine federal law,” decried Justice Kennedy in his 25-page majority opinion.
In other words, Arizona retained the key element of the law which indeed allows police officers to verify legal status.
Arizona Governor and immigration reform advocate, Jan Brewer, praised the court’s decision as a “victory for supporters of tough immigration enforcement.” She further said, “Today’s decision by the U.S. Supreme Court is a victory for the rule of law. It is also a victory for the 10th Amendment and all Americans who believe in the inherent right and responsibility of states to defend their citizens.”
She ended her written statement by saying, “After more than two years of legal challenges, the heart of SB 1070 can now be implemented in accordance with the U.S. Constitution.”
SB 1070 is the official name of the Arizona law.
Arizona Federal Senators Approve Of Ruling
Both of Arizona’s U.S. Senators, John McCain and Jon Kyl, were quick to express their approval of the ruling.
In a mutual statement by the two men, they wrote, “While we still want to fully review the Supreme Court’s decision, today’s ruling appears to validate a key component of Arizona’s immigration law, SB 1070. The Arizona law was born out of the state’s frustration with the burdens that illegal immigration and continued drug smuggling impose on its schools, hospitals, criminal justice system and fragile desert environment, and an administration that chooses to set enforcement policies based on a political agenda, not the laws as written by Congress. We will continue our efforts on behalf of the citizens of Arizona to secure our southern border. We believe Arizonans are better served when state and federal officials work as partners to protect our citizens rather than as litigants in a courtroom.”
Setback For Obama
The decision was a partial setback for President Barack Obama. The ongoing debate between Democrats and Republicans over the estimated 11.5 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. is thought to be a key issue in this year’s election, especially for the growing Hispanic vote.
Opinion polls show Hispanics overwhelmingly supporting President Obama. They encompass 16 percent of the eligible voters.
Arizona became the first U.S. state to adopt laws to discourage illegal immigrants from coming over the border. The high court’s ruling clears the way for other states to create similar protections to its legal citizens.
About 3 percent of all estimated U.S. illegals reside in Arizona. It should be noted that most of the state’s nearly 2 million Latinos are in the United States legally.
Recent Immigration Policy Announcement
“Coincidentally,” Obama earlier this month announced important changes in federal immigration policy. The timing comes during a close re-election campaign with his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney. who has taken a tough stance against illegal immigration. Many question the political strategy Obama has utilized as president, to enact measures that could easily have been passed in his first two years in office, with a majority in both Houses.
Nevertheless, Obama’s announcement allows hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants brought into the United States as children, to avoid deportation and obtain work permits.
Most illegal immigrants in the United States are Hispanics.