National Immigration Forum

Practical Solutions for Immigrants and America

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Supreme Court Upholds Pointy End of the Sword of Arizona’s Immigration Law

June 25, 2012

Washington, D.C. — The Supreme Court today agreed with lower courts that three provisions of Arizona’s S.B. 1070 immigration law are prohibited as violating the federal government’s exercise of immigration powers. One provision, Section 2(B), was not blocked by the Court. The Court ruled it is too early to know if Section 2(B) can be implemented in a way that will not violate the Constitution. Section 2(B), known as the “papers, please” provision, 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. The Court was clear that today’s opinion leaves open other challenges to S.B. 1070 after the law goes into effect.

“Just as the nation is inching closer to a consensus on the need for solutions on immigration, the Supreme Court is dividing the nation,” said Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum. “While the Supreme Court largely agreed that S.B. 1070 goes against our Constitution, it still left one dangerous provision, Section 2(B), which is the pointy end of the sword of the Arizona immigration law. The racial profiling inherent in Section 2(B) will cause irreparable harm in Arizona.”

The Court’s decision is in dissonance with the American public, which is increasingly moving away from hardline immigration positions. A recent national Gallup poll found that 66 percent of Americans think immigration is a “good thing” for the U.S. today, up from 59 percent last year.

And, two weeks ago, evangelical Christians, who represent one-third of the American electorate and are one “bedrock element of the conservative movement,” joined the growing chorus calling for meaningful action to fix the immigration system.

“Today’s ruling takes us backward,” stated Dr. Warren Stewart, senior pastor at First Institutional Baptist Church in Phoenix and Board Chair of the National Immigration Forum. “Arizona’s discriminatory law is an attack on the American core values of fairness and equal treatment under the law.”

“In an increasingly diverse country, it does not make sense to encourage the profiling of people, even if they have been U.S. citizens all of their lives, because of their race or the way they look or speak,” Stewart added. “It is immoral to turn back the clock to a day when we were judged by the color of our skin, and not the content of our character.”

“The Arizona law is not only morally wrong but also economically imprudent,” stated Ali Noorani. “The Supreme Court might have given part of Arizona’s misguided law a green light, but states will be making a wrong turn if they decide to follow Arizona. Arizona’s law will only lead down a road to economic perdition.”

Arizona’s tough state immigration law has taken an economic toll on the local economy. S.B. 1070 has damaged the Grand Canyon State’s reputation as a state of tolerance, impacting the tourism industry and driving away taxpaying workers and consumers. Yet despite of the hefty price tag, S.B. 1070 does nothing to address the fundamental problems of our immigration laws.

“In the aftermath of this ruling, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security should suspend Secure Communities in any state that implements S.B. 1070–like legislation,” Noorani said. “That is the only way the federal immigration enforcement system cannot be exploited to the benefit of these laws.

“Now, more than ever, we must create a workable and functioning immigration system that serves the needs of all Americans,” added Noorani. “Only Congress, and not misguided state laws like Arizona’s, can create the necessary national, uniform solution.”

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