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Supreme Court decision didn't settle immigration issue

June 26, 2012 by Scott Bomboy


The Supreme Court’s split verdict has Republicans and Democrats both claiming victory in the Arizona v. United States case, although the long-term issue is far from settled.

Immigration protest sign
A protester against Arizona's strict immigration policy

On Monday, the Court struck down three of the four provisions in question in the Arizona immigration law, known as S.B. 1070.

It retained the part that requires police to ask for documentation if they have a "reasonable suspicion" if someone is in the United States illegally.

And the Court also left the door fully open for an appeal on the identification part of the law.

“At this stage, without the benefit of a definitive interpretation from the state courts it would be inappropriate to assume [that provision] will be construed in a way that creates a conflict with federal law,” said Justice Anthony Kennedy. “This opinion does not foreclose other preemption and constitutional challenges to the law as interpreted and applied after it goes into effect,” Kennedy wrote.

A separate legal action, Friendly House v. Whiting, is in the court system and it challenges S.B. 1070 on grounds of racial profiling.

In either event, the immigration issue doesn’t seem to be fading away as the presidential campaign heats up.

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer was quickly out with a statement that the ruling was a victory for her state because it preserved the “heart” of S.B. 1070.

Brewer also said state law enforcement would need to be vigilant to make sure documentation checks weren’t cases of racial profiling.

"Law enforcement will be held accountable should this statute be misused in a fashion that violates an individual's civil rights," she said.

President Barack Obama said, “ I am pleased that the Supreme Court has struck down key provisions of Arizona's immigration law.” But he also warned states about racial profiling when enforcing document checks.

“At the same time, I remain concerned about the practical impact of the remaining provision of the Arizona law that requires local law enforcement officials to check the immigration status of anyone they even suspect to be here illegally,” he said.

Mitt Romney said the decision represented another miscue from the Obama administration.

“President Obama has failed to provide any leadership on immigration,” Romney said in a statement. “This represents yet another broken promise by this President. I believe that each state has the duty — and the right — to secure our borders and preserve the rule of law, particularly when the federal government has failed to meet its responsibilities. As Candidate Obama, he promised to present an immigration plan during his first year in office. But four years later, we are still waiting.”

Immigration is back at the forefront of the presidential campaign, after President Obama signed an executive order to allow some illegal immigrants to temporarily stay in the United States.

Romney and other Republicans are still reacting to Obama’s move, with Romney trying to remain a states-rights immigration advocate while connecting with Latino voters.

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