AJC Statement on Supreme Court Decision on Arizona Immigration Law

June 25, 2012 – Washington, DC – AJC commends the U.S. Supreme Court for upholding the preeminent role of the federal government in immigration policy, but is disappointed that the Court's ruling left in place a provision of Arizona law enabling law enforcement officers to require proof of legal status from anyone whom they have reasonable suspicion to believe is undocumented.

Commenting on the 5-3 decision on the constitutionality of S.B. 1070, Arizona's immigration enforcement law, Richard Foltin, AJC's Director of National and Legislative Affairs, applauded the Court's overturning of several of the statute's provisions on the basis of federal preemption, "which will likely result in the overturning of other state copycat laws, such as in Alabama and South Carolina, and prevent the proliferation of similar laws in new states."

The Court invalidated key provisions of the Arizona law, including Section 3 and Section 5, which would penalize undocumented immigrants who work in the state or fail to comply with federal alien registration, respectively; and Section 6, which would allow state officers to arrest a person without a warrant if the officer has probable cause to believe the person committed a removable offense.

At the same time, the Court upheld, 8-0, Section 2(B), a provision of S.B.1070 requiring state officers to determine the immigration status of any person they stop, detain, or arrest on another basis "if reasonable suspicion exists that the person is unlawfully present in the United States." Foltin warned that, notwithstanding the civil rights protections ostensibly built into this mandate, "the Court's decision upholding this ‘show me your papers' provision is still likely lead to racial profiling and civil rights abuses." He noted, however, that the Court's decision leaves the door open to further challenges to the upheld provision on an "as applied" basis.

AJC has condemned S.B.1070 from its inception, calling it a setback in national efforts to achieve immigration reform. "There is no doubt that our nation's immigration laws must be reformed, but those reforms must come from Congress, not from states enacting piecemeal immigration enforcement legislation," Foltin said.

Since its founding in 1906, AJC has been a strong voice in support of fair and generous treatment of immigrants. AJC continues to urge Congress to pass commonsense federal immigration reforms that are consistent with humanitarian values and with the need to treat all individuals with respect, while allowing the United States to implement its immigration laws and identify and prevent the entry of criminals, and of persons who wish to do us harm or otherwise pose a risk to our national security.
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