WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday struck down three of four provisions included in Arizona’s SB1070 immigration law, reaffirming that immigration enforcement is solely the responsibility of the federal government.
However, the decision let stand a provision that critics say will encourage racial profiling by Arizona law enforcement officials, who can ask state residents to provide documentation if they have a “reasonable suspicion” the individual is in the country illegally.
Rep. Judy Chu (D-El Monte), chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, and Rep. Mike Honda (D-San Jose), CAPAC Immigration Task Force chair and CAPAC chair emeritus, released the following statements in response to the ruling:
“Today, the Supreme Court reiterated that the federal government has broad, irrefutable power over immigration under the Constitution,” Chu said. “While I applaud the court’s decision to strike down the misguided policies that would have pitted law enforcement against families, workers and senior citizens, I believe their decision to uphold the discriminatory ‘show me your papers’ provision will harm us as a nation. This provision will promote racial profiling, which I believe violates our values and interests, as well as our Constitution.
“I remain concerned about the precedent that this sets for our nation – a nation of immigrants – as we see race-based law enforcement codified into state law. Asian Pacific Americans are the fastest-growing demographic in Arizona and will be profoundly impacted by this provision. Lawsuits challenging the provision on racial profiling grounds are moving through the courts and I am hopeful that this discriminatory provision will ultimately be invalidated.
“The Supreme Court’s decision today is yet another reminder that Congress must act immediately to ensure our nation has a clear and robust federal immigration policy that works for families, employers and immigrants and citizens alike.”
“While I applaud the Supreme Court’s ruling to strike down most of the key provisions of Arizona’s anti-immigrant enforcement bill, I am extremely disheartened and disappointed by the court’s ruling to essentially uphold the highly discriminatory and dangerous ‘show me your papers’ provision — thus keeping open the floodgates for legally sanctioned racial profiling,” said Honda. “When implemented, Arizonans who look or sound ‘foreign,’ even if they are in fact citizens or legal residents, could be asked for their papers at any given moment — and punished for failing to produce them.
“As someone who was placed in … internment camps during World War II, I know all too well the effects of scapegoating and racial profiling. Racial profiling is humiliating and degrading, and it tears at the social and moral fabric of families, communities and America as a whole.
“But this is not the final word on ‘show me your papers’ provision. I remain hopeful that the Supreme Court has left the door open for the provision to be challenged upon implementation … I will continue the fight for comprehensive, inclusive immigration reform and I urge the U.S. Department of Justice to continue championing civil rights enforcement.”
Sens. Daniel Akaka and Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) also weighed in.
“I am pleased that the Supreme Court struck down key elements of Arizona’s aggressive immigration law,” said Akaka. “However, I am concerned that the part of the law left in place – allowing local police to check the immigration status of anyone suspected to be in the country illegally – will target individuals based on appearance and speech. This decision illustrates the pressing need for comprehensive immigration reform.”
“The Supreme Court was on the right path, but I would like to have seen this discriminatory piece of Arizona legislation done away with entirely,” said Inouye. “I am happy to say that Hawaii doesn’t treat immigrants in this fashion.
“Sadly, I recall all too well a time in this country when people were judged and divided by the color of their skin, and we should not allow laws like this to exist in any form. No American should come under suspicion for their appearance or their last name.
“Today’s decision further underscores the need for comprehensive immigration reform, and I would urge my colleagues in the House and the Senate to come together and work toward this so we will not need the Supreme Court to issue opinions about how we treat our immigrant population.”
The court upheld Section 2(B), which requires state and local police to attempt to determine the immigration status of any person lawfully stopped, detained, or arrested whenever there is a “reasonable suspicion” that the person is unlawfully present, and verify that status with the federal government.
The court found three provisions unconstitutional: Section 3, which made it a state crime for any person to violate provisions of the federal immigration law requiring registration and the carrying of registration documents; Section 5(C), which made it a state crime for an immigrant unlawfully present and not authorized to work in the United States to apply for work, solicit work in a public place, or perform work within the state; and Section 6, which authorized police officers to arrest individuals without a warrant if the officers have probable cause to believe that the individual committed an offense that would make him or her deportable.