States Across the Country Wait on Supreme Court’s Immigration Ruling

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Supreme Court
Image credit: Interfaith Immigration Coalition

All eyes are on the Supreme Court this month as citizens, immigrant rights organizations, state governments, and federal officials eagerly await the Court’s decision on Arizona’s controversial SB 1070 immigration enforcement law. At the time of its passage in April 2010, SB 1070 was the most controversial assertion of state immigration enforcement power. Despite opposition from LIRS and countless other national and local organizations, Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, South Carolina, and Utah followed the lead by signing into law Arizona “copycat” bills. All five of these states now face lawsuits from prominent immigrant rights groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Immigration Law Center. What’s more, Arizona, Utah, Alabama and South Carolina also face litigation from the Department of Justice.

Although these state immigration enforcement bills contain important differences, they face similar allegations of unconstitutionality on the grounds of preemption of federal law as well as civil rights related concerns including racial profiling. To learn more about these laws, check out the new LIRS resource.

In April 2012 the Supreme Court heard arguments from the Department of Justice and the State of Arizona. A ruling is expected later this month.

Speculation about the Court’s decisions has inspired action from both opponents and supporters preparing for all outcomes. Immigration rights groups are planning in-state rallies as well as cross-country tours to protest all Arizona-type laws. Similarly, Hispanic communities across Arizona are planning a campaign of non-violent resistance and protest including mobilizing over one million legal Hispanic Arizona citizens to intentionally not carry their papers as the law mandates. Meanwhile, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer is readying Arizona police for immediate implementation by re-circulating the enforcement video released two years ago after the bill’s state passage.

The effects of the Court’s decision will reach far outside of Arizona. The ruling will have a significant impact on the five other laws that are being litigated as many judges have decided to postpone ruling until after the decision.

State legislators have also put bills on hold until next session hoping the Supreme Court decision will provide guidance for future legislation.

While the decision is likely to spur more debate, citizens on the ground negatively affected by state legislation, including farmers in Georgia and school children in Alabama, are hoping for some resolution.

The passage of Arizona’s S.B. 1070 created a domino-effect of new state immigration bills across the nation. Now, the Supreme Court’s decision should help determine the constitutionality of states intervening into this area of federal immigration policy and hopefully put a stop to these copy-cat laws.

Stay tuned for further updates!

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