The Supreme Court of the United States struck down sections of the controversial Arizona immigration law S. B. 1070 and upheld one crucial part. Arizona’s law was enacted in 2010 in response to the state’s frustration with the federal government’s lack of enforcement of current immigration laws.

The Supreme Court struck down the following sections:

  •  Making it a crime for illegal immigrants to work or seek work in the state.
  • Making it permissible for police to arrest a person without a warrant who they believe is illegal.
  • Making it a requirement for immigrants to register with the federal government.

Police Able to Verify Immigration Status Immediately

For me, the key takeaway from today’s decision is the fact that while the court struck down other section of the law, they upheld the ability for the police to inquire about a person’s immigration status when pulled over. Police must have reasonable suspicion to pull someone over.

This section of the law was never enforced but as of today, it is effective. This means that anyone stopped by police will have to provide some sort of proof of their legal immigration status. While today’s decision emphasized the necessity that this section be enforced without racial profiling and without prejudice, I am not so sure that will happen.

The basis of today’s decision is simple; the federal government has power over the immigration and alien status. The Supremacy Clause gives Congress the power to preempt state law, in part, when the state law is an obstacle to federal objectives.

While frustrations grow with the lack of enforcement and perhaps even reform of the immigration laws, the state cannot just go over the federal government’s powers to try and fix it. The parts of the law that were struck down are already covered under current federal immigration laws and the part upheld is viewed as not interfering with current federal laws, rather assisting in them.

What do you think about this?

To learn more about immigration law, click here.