The Supreme Court on Monday said states may play a limited role in enforcing laws on illegal immigration, upholding part of Arizona’s controversial law but striking other portions it said intruded on the federal government’s powers.
The justices let stand for now the part of the law that requires police to check the immigration status of anyone they detain or arrest if they have “reasonable suspicion” that the person is in the country illegally. Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) declared that decision, on the part of the law that had generated the most controversy, a victory.
But the ruling also in part vindicated the Obama administration, with the court rejecting three provisions that the federal government opposed.
The court ruled that Arizona cannot make it a misdemeanor for immigrants to fail to carry identification that says whether they are in the United States legally; cannot make it a crime for undocumented immigrants to apply for a job; and cannot arrest someone based solely on the suspicion that the person is in this country illegally.
Bishop Kirk Smith of the Episcopal Diocese of Arizona sent the following statement via email:
As one working and praying for a more just immigration policy, I was guardedly pleased with the Supreme Court ruling on the controversial SB 1070 law. Although much work still needs to be done to insure that law abiding immigrants in our country are treated in a just and humane manner, I view the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down much of SB1070 as unconstitutional as a step in the right direction, although I wish that it had gone further. For example, the “show me your papers” provision of the law, which the court left standing, still has enormous potential for racial profiling and other abuses. There is still much work that must be done to assure that all our immigration laws “respect the dignity of every human being.”
At this time I am unaware if further demonstrations or press conferences are planned by church leaders, but I would expect that no one sees the struggle for human rights in Arizona to be over.