Supreme Court Ruling on Arizona Law: A Win For Immigration Advocates, Decisive Blow to Anti-Immigrant Forces

A gay binational couple, together for three decades, marries across from the United States Supreme Court

Statement by Lavi Soloway, Stop The Deportations – The DOMA Project:

“Today’s 5-3 Supreme Court ruling struck down most of the notorious Arizona immigration enforcement law SB 1070 as an unconstitutional infringement on federal authority. This was a clear win for the Obama administration and for immigration advocates, and a decisive blow to anti-immigrant activists and politicians like Arizona Governor Jan Brewer who argued that states could enforce federal immigration law.

Writing for the majority, Justice Kennedy repeatedly affirmed the broad discretionary powers of the executive branch to enforce immigration law, including the broad discretion exercised by immigration officials not to pursue cases with good equities. This language supports the Obama administration’s June 15 decision to grant deferred action and halt the deportations of the children of undocumented immigrants, and provides further support for our campaign to stop all deportations of spouses and partner of lesbian and gay Americans.

As an advocate of immigration reform, I remain concerned that the Court did not strike down what is widely considered the most controversial “racial profiling” provision of the law, Section 2(B). That section requires Arizona police officers to verify immigration status when stopping, arresting, or detaining someone. All immigrant communities and activists, including LGBT advocates, are right to be concerned that this provision violates federal authority in immigration enforcement and would lead to racial profiling and targeting of vulnerable communities.

However, the Supreme Court today did not give §2(B) the proverbial “Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval.” The Supreme Court narrowly allowed that provision to stand for now, but essentially warned the State of Arizona (and other states who are seeking to mimic Arizona’s attempt to usurp federal authority in this area) that this provision could be struck down in the future depending on how it will be applied in practice or how state courts interpret its scope. In fact, Justice Kennedy all but predicted that the “papers please” provision would be revisited by the Supreme Court if this state police power is used in a way that violates federal authority. It is disappointing that §2(B) was not struck down today, but I remain optimistic that it will not survive constitutional scrutiny when it is inevitably challenged in the future given the standard set forth today by the Supreme Court.”

Read the full decision of the Supreme Court in Arizona v. United States 11-182 (2012).

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This is a pro-bono project of the law firm of Masliah & Soloway, PC. Posts on this website are offered for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. The law firm of Masliah & Soloway, PC has offices in New York and Los Angeles. Our practice is limited to U.S. Immigration & Nationality Law.