National Immigration Forum

Practical Solutions for Immigrants and America

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Former Arizona Attorneys General React to Arizona Supreme Court Ruling

June 26, 2012

A recording from the press conference is available at http://tinyurl.com/AZAttorneyGenerals


Washington, D.C. — On Tuesday, Republican and Democratic former Arizona attorneys general offered their law enforcement perspective on the impact of the Supreme Court ruling on Arizona’s overreaching immigration law. On Monday, the Supreme Court agreed with the Ninth Circuit that three provisions of S.B. 1070 improperly stomped on the federal government’s role of enforcing immigration law. Yet the Court let stand “the pointy end of the sword” of Arizona’s immigration law, Section 2(B), which requires law enforcement officers to determine the immigration status of those they stop, arrest or detain if there is a “reasonable suspicion” that the person is not lawfully present.

As Justice Anthony Kennedy delivered the Court decision, he cited the “friend of the court” brief authored by former Arizona attorneys general Grant Woods (R) and Terry Goddard (D) and endorsed by 42 other former state attorneys general. The amicus brief argued that Arizona’s immigration law weakens public safety and law enforcement.

Grant Woods, Republican former Arizona attorney general, was pleased that the court struck down three of the most overreaching provisions. "Yesterday’s ruling is an important victory for those who want fairness and equality in the enforcement of immigration laws,” said Woods. But he warned, “The remaining portion of S.B. 1070 will in all likelihood lead to racial profiling. A careful record must now be made, and if profiling is regularly occurring, the federal courts will be asked to step in again. Hopefully enough attention had been paid to this that profiling by law enforcement will be curtailed.”

“One of the liabilities of S.B. 1070 is the huge costs that it imposes on local law enforcement,” said Terry Goddard, Democratic former Arizona attorney general. “The clarity that Justice Kennedy provided in his opinion helps to reduce some of the costs, but there are still training costs factored in the implementation of Section 2(B). This provision is going to hurt public safety and law enforcement in Arizona because it diverts valuable law enforcement resources.”

Dr. Warren H. Stewart Sr., civil rights leader, senior pastor of First Institutional Baptist Church in Phoenix and board chair of the National Immigration Forum, brought a moral voice to the discussion. “As an Arizona civil rights leader, I’m concerned that the Supreme Court’s decision to allow law enforcement to check someone’s immigration leaves room for racial profiling. But yesterday’s ruling is not the final chapter of Arizona’s discriminatory law. The courts still need to examine whether its implementation leads to unfair discrimination against Latinos and other minorities.”

“The real solution lies with federal legislation such as comprehensive immigration reform,” said Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum. “With open arms, we welcome concrete proposals and actions from both Democratic and Republican candidates for president. Politics as usual from either party is not solving the problem.”

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