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  1. #1
    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    High court appears to lean toward Arizona in immigration law dispute

    High court appears to lean toward Arizona in immigration law dispute

    From Bill Mears, CNN Supreme Court Producer
    updated 1:26 PM EDT, Wed April 25, 2012

    Phoenix cop calls Arizona's immigration law 'racist,' others say it's necessary.

    Washington (CNN) -- Parts of Arizona's sweeping immigration law received a surprising amount of support from a short-handed Supreme Court Wednesday.

    States throughout the country considering their own tough immigration laws are closely following the proceedings over what has become a thorny issue.

    Fed up with illegal immigrants crossing from Mexico -- and what they say is the federal government's inability to stop it -- legislators in Arizona passed a tough immigration law. The federal government sued, saying that Arizona overreached.

    While intense oral arguments took place among the justices, outside there were competing demonstrations on the courthouse plaza, with the law's opponents saying it promotes discrimination and racial profiling. Backers say illegal immigration has created public safety and economic crises.

    At issue is whether states have any authority to step in to enforce immigration matters or whether that is the exclusive role of the federal government. In dry legal terms, this constitutional question is known as pre-emption.

    "What does government mean if it doesn't allow states to defend its borders," said Justice Antonin Scalia.

    Even liberal Justice Sonia Sotomayor told the federal governments' lawyer his case was "not selling very well."

    Federal courts had blocked four key parts of the state's Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act, known as SB 1070.
    Paul Clement, lawyer for Arizona, told the high court the federal government has long failed to control the problem, and that states have discretion to assist in enforcing immigration laws.

    But the Obama administration's Solicitor General Donald Verrilli strongly countered that assertion, saying immigration matters are under its exclusive authority and state "interference" would only make matters worse.

    Several other states followed Arizona's lead by passing laws meant to deter illegal immigrants. Similar laws are under challenge in lower courts in Georgia, Alabama, Utah, Indiana and South Carolina. Arizona's appeal is the first to reach the Supreme Court.

    2010: What the AZ immigration law says

    Arizona is the nation's most heavily traveled corridor for illegal immigration and smuggling.

    Justice Elena Kagan did not hear this case. Before taking the bench last year, she had been involved in the administration's initial legal opposition to the law as solicitor general. A 4-4 high court split would be likely to keep the Arizona law in legal limbo, preventing the four provisions of the law from going into effect but not settling the larger constitutional questions.

    It would also shift the election-year fight over the issue to other states with current or pending crackdown laws.

    Opinion: What if justices let states make immigration policy?

    The court hearing over the illegal immigration law comes at an interesting time. The Pew Hispanic Center this week released a report that found that Mexican immigration to the United States has come to a standstill.

    The economic downturn in the United States and better conditions in Mexico, along with deportations and other enforcement, has led many to return to Mexico.

    However, the debate continues as more than 10 million unauthorized immigrants -- from Mexico and other countries -- continue to live in the United States.

    Even if immigration has slowed to lows not seen in decades, proponents of tough immigration laws want to beef up enforcement ahead of any future pressures.

    The four Arizona provisions on hold are:
    -- A requirement that local police officers check a person's immigration status while enforcing other laws if "reasonable suspicion" exists that the person is in the United States illegally.
    -- A provision authorizing police to arrest immigrants without warrant where "probable cause" exists that they committed any public offense making them removable from the country.
    -- A section making it a state crime for "unauthorized immigrants" to fail to carry registration papers and other government identification.
    -- A ban on those not authorized for employment in the United States to apply, solicit or perform work. That would include immigrants standing in a parking lot who "gesture or nod" their willingness to be employed.
    Although the specific question before the high court relates to the law's enforcement, the justices could use the appeal to address the broader constitutional questions.

    The administration, backed by a variety of immigrant and civil rights groups, says allowing such discretionary state authority would hurt relations between the United States and other countries, disrupt existing cooperative efforts and unfairly target legal immigrants.

    Mexican migration slows, but debate isn't over

    The legislation has a variety of supporters and detractors.
    Republican lawmakers, outspoken Maricopa County, Arizona, Sheriff Joe Arpaio and various state governments were among those filing briefs supporting the law. The Mexican government, the Anti-Defamation League, the American Immigration Lawyers Association and the city of Tucson, Arizona, were among those supporting the Justice Department's side.

    A tale of opposing views in Arizona

    Civil rights and minority groups, as well as some law enforcement agencies, worry the law would encourage racial profiling, drain vital and scarce law enforcement resources, hamper investigation of more serious crimes and cripple relations with immigrant communities.

    In a CNN/ORC International poll last fall, 52% of those surveyed said illegal immigration was extremely or very important to their vote for president. But a similar poll in March showed only 4% saying it is the most important issue facing the United States today, while 53% said the economy is the top issue.

    While a federal judge in 2010 stopped enforcement of the most controversial provisions, other parts of SB 1070 were given the go-ahead, including a ban on "sanctuary cities," or municipalities with laws or policies that render them relatively safe for undocumented immigrants.

    Judge Susan Bolton's ruling also allowed a provision making it illegal to hire day laborers if doing so impedes traffic. Her order allowed parts of the law dealing with sanctions for employers who hire illegal immigrants to take effect.

    A federal appeals court in San Francisco subsequently sided with the Justice Department, largely on the argument that federal immigration policy -- as well as America's standing in the world -- would be greatly undermined if individual states adopted their own separate immigration laws. Doing so, the court concluded, essentially meant a given state would be adopting its own foreign policy, one that may be in opposition to national policy.

    The outcome of the Arizona appeal could set important precedent on similar laws pending across the country.

    The case is Arizona v. U.S. (11-182) and is to be the last argued before the high court this term. A ruling could come in late June, just before the justices recess for the summer.

    High court appears to lean toward Arizona in immigration law dispute -

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  2. #2
    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    Don't reward the criminal actions of millions of illegal aliens by giving them citizenship.

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    Please support our fight against illegal immigration by joining ALIPAC's email alerts here

  3. #3
    Senior Member HAPPY2BME's Avatar
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    Feb 2005
    SB 1070: Supreme Court Appears To Favor Arizona On Controversial Immigration Law

    WASHINGTON -- A majority of the Supreme Court on Wednesday morning appeared sympathetic to Arizona's argument that the most controversial elements of its immigration law offer a legitimate helping hand to federal immigration policy, rather than act as unconstitutional agents of chaos.

    The politically charged clash between Arizona and the United States was the final oral argument of the court's extraordinarily high-profile term and served as a rematch between D.C. superlawyer Paul Clement and U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, who faced off in the health care cases over the course of three days in late March.

    Clement, arguing on behalf of Arizona and its governor, Jan Brewer, told the justices that the state's law, commonly known as S.B. 1070, "borrowed the federal standard as its own" in combating Arizona's "disproportionate share of the costs of illegal immigration."

    Of the four provisions in S.B. 1070 that have been blocked by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, two criminalize undocumented immigrants' presence in Arizona and their seeking work with employers in the state. Another authorizes police officers to make warrantless arrests of anyone they have probable cause to believe has committed a deportable offense. And the fourth is the "papers please" measure, which requires law enforcement to demand immigration papers from anyone stopped, detained or arrested in the state who officers reasonably suspect is in the country without authorization, and further mandates law enforcement to determine all arrestees' immigration status before they are released.

    The court's three participating liberal members were Clement's most aggressive questioners, but far from broadly protesting S.B. 1070, they focused narrowly on the prospect that U.S. citizens could be detained under the "papers please" provision for unconstitutionally unreasonable lengths of time.

    "As I understand it, when individuals are arrested and held for other crimes, often there's an immigration check that most states do without this law," said Justice Sonia Sotomayor. "What I see as critical is the issue of how long," she said, questioning the length of a time the person would be held while Arizona law enforcement checked his or her status with the federal government.

    Justice Stephen Breyer and Justice Samuel Alito, a member of the court's conservative bloc, also seemed troubled by this consideration.

    Still, there was no major assault on S.B. 1070 coming from the high court.

    On the other side, Justice Antonin Scalia took the most extreme view in favor of the law, sarcastically characterizing the federal government's argument as "the state has no power to close its borders to people who have no right to be there."

    The conservative justices saved much of their skepticism for Solicitor General Verrilli's assertions that federal law preempted four provisions of the Grand Canyon State's effort at "attrition through enforcement." Justice Anthony Kennedy, the high court's swing vote, noted Arizona's "massive emergency with social disruption, economic disruption, residents leaving the state because of the flood of immigrants."

    "Does that give the state of Arizona any powers or authority or legitimate concerns that any other state wouldn't have," Kennedy asked, strongly implying his answer would be "yes."

    Meanwhile, Chief Justice John Roberts argued that the "papers please" provision does no more than assist the federal government's own policy of keeping tabs on undocumented immigrants. "It is not an effort to enforce federal law," Roberts said. "It is an effort to let you know about violations of federal law."

    Verrilli insisted that the law still trod on federal prerogatives, leading at least one liberal justice to question the government's position. "I'm terribly confused by your answer," Sotomayor said. "If the government says [in response to Arizona's identification of an undocumented immigrant], 'We don't want to detain the person, they have to be released for being simply an illegal alien,' what's wrong with that?"

    The heated controversy over Arizona's law has been driven largely by critics' view that the law was borne of anti-Hispanic prejudice and invites racial profiling -- despite language in the law prohibiting such practices. But Wednesday's case concerned the more technical doctrine of federal preemption of state laws, which is based on the Constitution's supremacy clause. Indeed, at the start of Verrilli's argument, Roberts announced that "no part of your argument has to do with racial or ethnic profiling."

    Verrilli nevertheless slipped into this territory after Sotomayor urged him to list the reasons why the law should be preempted. He named first the "problem of harassment," citing Arizona's "2 million Latinos, of whom only 400,000 at most are there unlawfully."

    "Sounds like racial profiling to me," Scalia retorted in an attempt to shut down that line of argument.

    The Supreme Court seemed to take more kindly to Verrilli's argument that imprisoning undocumented immigrants under S.B. 1070's criminal sanctions for being present in Arizona or seeking work in the state would adversely affect the U.S. government's control of foreign relations. And during Clement's presentation, Roberts raised an eyebrow at Arizona's "imposing some significantly greater sanctions" on undocumented employees than those provided in the federal law, which focuses on punishing employers.

    Alito, too, appeared willing to maintain the lower court's blocking of the criminal sanctions. "We are told that there are some important categories of aliens," such as those with pending asylum applications, who "cannot obtain federal registration, and yet they are people that nobody would think should be removed," Alito said.

    Justice Elena Kagan has recused herself from the case, presumably because she worked on it while serving as solicitor general. Her absence leaves the possibility of a 4-4 split, which would automatically affirm the 9th Circuit's judgment without creating a nationwide precedent against similar laws passed in five other states and being seriously considered by another eight.

    A 4-4 vote did not seem at all likely on Wednesday, however, as majorities of the justices leaned toward blocking the criminal sanctions while allowing the "papers please" and warrantless arrest provisions to go into effect, provided detainees are not held longer than they would be in the absence of S.B. 1070.

    While that outcome would be a partial victory for Arizona and the states that have followed its lead, such a ruling would also leave those laws vulnerable to potential and currently pending challenges by civil rights groups on behalf of individuals who allege violations of equal protection and due process protections, among other constitutional injuries.

    The Supreme Court is expected to decide the case, Arizona v. United States, by late June.

    This story has been updated with the release of the oral argument transcript.

    SB 1070: Supreme Court Appears To Favor Arizona On Controversial Immigration Law
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