By Kim Tremblay, Associate Attorney
On June 25, 2012, the United States Supreme Court issued its decision in Arizona et al. v. United States, dealing with Arizona’s controversial immigration bill, S.B. 1070. The Court held that sections 3, 5(C), and 6 of S.B. 1070 were preempted by federal immigration law and could not stand. This signifies that because the federal government has the power to regulate foreign affairs and immigration, the states cannot legislate in these areas. The three sections struck down respectively required state level penalties related to alien registration, criminal penalties for undocumented immigrants who are employed, and warrantless arrest of suspected deportable or undocumented immigrants.
The court did uphold section 2(B) of S.B. 1070. That section requires police officers to check the immigration status of suspected undocumented immigrants. The court did leave open the possibility of legal challenges to this section of the law if it is carried out unconstitutionally. For example, if a practice emerges of officers considering race, color, or national origin in a way not permitted by the United States Constitution, challenges will likely be brought.
The Supreme Court decision may have a cooling effect on enacting immigration legislation in other states. In 2012 alone, over 800 bills and resolutions related to immigration law were introduced in 45 different states. Lawsuits filed about bills passed in Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, South Carolina, and Utah and being fought in lower courts and are still pending.
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