Supreme Court Strikes 3 Of 4 Sections Of Arizona Immigration Law

Update: As regards to 5(C).  I disagree with the policy but would have thought that the state could legislate that.  Technically speaking, that means I agree with the legality Arizona was getting at and disagree with the Court.

Supreme Court Announces Ruling

This morning the Supreme Court released it’s ruling on the controversial Arizona immigration law passed in 2010.  The highly anticipated ruling is one of two high visibility cases heard in this session.  The Federal government had sued Arizona as a result of the law.  Specifically 4 sections:

  1. Section 3 – This section made failure to comply with Federal alien-registrations a state misdemeanor.
  2. Section 6 – Authorizes state and local officers to arrest without a warrant a person “the officer has probable cause to believe . . . has committed any public offense that makes the person removable from the United States”
  3. 5(C) – This section makes it a misdemeanor for an unauthorized alien to look for or engage in work.
  4. Section 2(B) – Requires officers conducting a stop, detention, or arrest to make efforts, in some circumstances, to verify the person’s immigration status with the Federal Government

I can’t begin to play inside baseball on the rulings, I don’t have the legal training.  However, I’ll give my thoughts and the Court’s ruling on each.

Section 3

Reading the four sections, I’m struck that I agree with Arizona in two of them.  And this is one of those two.  It seems reasonable to me that if a state wants to codify a State law that mirrors a Federal law, they ought to be able to do that.  However, the Court disagrees with me, and Arizona, and struck this down.

The state does not have the ability to make this a state misdemeanor.

Section 6

I don’t know what Arizona was going after on this one.  It sounds like they are saying that local authorities can arrest anyone they suspect of being undocumented or illegal.    Of the four sections, this comes closest to what opponents of the law would classify as the “Show me your papers” aspect of the law.  While I think that people would have to prove their status, I don’t think we want law enforcement just walking around demanding those papers.

The court struck this down.

Section 5(C)

This section makes it illegal for undocumented individuals to look for or engage in work.  This is crazy.  I disagree with this as much as a I disagree with making it a crime to HIRE an undocumented individual.

The court struck this down.

Section 2(B)

When I thought of the Arizona law this is the section that I felt most described most of the law.  Can officers who detain individuals request that they verify their immigration status.  I see no problem in this case at all.  Every single time I’ve been “detained” I’ve had to produce documentation as to who I was.  Further, the law states that a driver’s license or state ID suffices.  Further, accommodations can be made if the documentation isn’t ON the person at the time of detention.

The court upheld this section.

I am sure that much will be made of the ruling, spin everywhere.  To me, it seemed the process worked.  The Federal government has been lax, for a long number of years, on immigration policy and enforcement.  The states should be able to work to protect themselves.  However, the court decided that Arizona went too far in that protection and instead gave them the right to simply verify the status of individuals when detained.

Fascinating times indeed.

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