Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Most of 1070 was 86'd

As it turned out, Arizona SB 1070, the state's immigration enforcement bill which passed two years ago, was merely a symbolic gesture to get the attention of the Feds. The lawsuit the Obama administration filed made it all the way to the Supreme Court.....where three of the four provisions of SB 1070 were struck down.

One made it a state crime not to complete or carry the immigration papers already required by federal law. Another made it criminal for an illegal immigrant to apply for or hold a job -- a rule that goes beyond the federal norm that criminalizes the employer of an illegal worker, not the worker himself. The third provision gave the police the authority to arrest without a warrant anyone whom they reasonably suspected of having committed some act that would allow them to be removed from the country under federal immigration law. (Ordinarily, if federal authorities stop a removable alien, they can’t detain him, but simply tell him that he must show up for a hearing.) The court concluded that all of these provisions were beyond Arizona’s authority to enact.

The one part of the law allowed to stand was seemingly the most controversial aspect, which was the "Papers, please" provision. However, the SCOTUS did seem to attach one caveat while allowing this part of the law to remain.

It said that the law might be read to mandate nothing more than a requirement for police to check immigration status during the ordinary duration of a legitimate stop based on reasonable suspicion of a crime. If that was all the law required, said the court, it would be constitutional.

On the surface, this holding upheld “papers, please.” In practice, though, the court took away some of the potentially frightening effects of the law, suggesting a roadmap for the state to follow in implementing it. The court said that detaining people only to determine their immigration status “would raise constitutional concerns,” implying that the length of the stop should not take longer than it ordinarily would to perform a criminal background check.

When SB 1070 was passed two years ago, the idea was to strenuously enforce Federal immigration laws in an effort quell out of control border crossing. But the fact the Supreme Court struck down the majority of 1070 seems rather moot when you consider the highest office in the land was demanding that much of the aforementioned Federal laws pertaining to immigration were going to be ignored anyhow.


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