One of this year’s most politicized issues, illegal immigration, went before the Supreme Court today for a decision on whether states have the right to enact and enforce their own immigration laws. And Justices signaled their approval for some of the most contentious provisions of Arizona’s immigration law S.B. 1070.
When Arizona passed S.B. 1070 in 2010, it included provision that would allow police to detain any suspected of being an illegal immigrant, often referred to as the “paper’s please” law. The law would also make it illegal for undocumented individuals to hold a job or fail to register with the state.
While many, including Latino leaders and immigration attorneys, have objected to the provision, stating it violates human rights and can lead to racial profiling. But the Supreme Court Justices focused more on the battle between state’s rights and the federal jurisdiction, telling Solicitor General Donald Verilli that no part of his argument pertained to racial profiling.
Central to the issue is whether federal immigration laws pre-empts a challenged state law. Under the constitutions supremacy clause, federal law trumps states laws. Under current federal immigration laws none of the blocked provisions of S.B. 1070 are barred, and the question facing the justices is whether the state must yield if their law conflicts with federal laws.
If states are allowed to enact their own immigration laws, this could become very confusing for undocumented residents and immigration lawyers who will have to become familiar with different laws passed by many states.
While there is general consensus on the state and federal level that the immigration system is in dire need of reform, it seem unlikely to happen anytime soon and immigrants will be faced with deportation and living the U.S. illegally, though they can seek out an immigration attorney to help them get legal documents.