The Supreme Court has ruled on Arizona’s tough immigration law, and the result isn’t good for state sovereignty. The Court, in a 5-3 ruling, (Justice Elena Kagan did not participate in the case because of prior involvement when she was Solicitor General) the Court struck down some of the major provisions of the law, citing the law infringed upon jurisdiction reserved for the federal government. As a result of this ruling, the federal government, not the states, now has the ultimate responsibility for determining immigration infractions, charges, and deportations. The Supreme Court also overturned the statute that criminalized those in Arizona who live in the state without proper documentation. It further decriminalized immigrants employed or who are seeking employment without legal status. Also, police can no longer arrest individuals if they are suspected of being in the country illegally unless a warrant is first obtained. However, the Court did uphold a statute allowing police to check the immigration status of an individual during a lawful situation such as a traffic stop. Sadly, most of the “teeth” of Arizona’s law has been removed. This unfortunately sets a sad judicial precedent for the rest of the states in the country. The ruling limits Arizona’s authority in matters of enforcing, prosecuting, and deporting illegal immigrants within her borders.
Instead of a state dealing with the immigration and deportation issues directly, police will now have to defer to the federal government, notifying it if the state has a suspect in custody. States will now have to essentially ask for permission from the feds before detaining illegal immigrants. If the federal government bequeaths its permission, however, the suspect cannot be held on immigration charges for an indefinite amount of time and most likely will be released.
This is an unfortunate milestone reached in the on-going debacle over illegal immigration policy making. Furthermore, on this day, the sovereignty of all the states in our Union has been significantly reduced while the federal government’s power has simultaneously increased.