Provision left after immigration ruling could be model for other laws
Published: July 5, 2012
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The Supreme Court's June 25 ruling overturning much of Arizona's 2010 immigration law should limit other states' efforts to pass some kinds of immigration controls, but legal experts predict more costly litigation lies ahead over the boundaries of the "show me your papers" provision the court let stand. Doris Meissner, former head of the federal immigration agency, said she would expect states that want to dive into immigration-law waters might find something of a model for types of laws that could pass muster with the court, by targeting areas of law usually left to the states. In a 5-3 ruling, the Supreme Court tossed out as unconstitutional several key provisions of the law known as S.B. 1070. Namely, it rejected sections of the law that criminalized the act of failing to carry proof of legal immigration status (under federal law, being in the country illegally -- called illegal presence -- is a civil code violation); criminalized the act of applying for employment without a federal work permit; and allowed police to arrest someone without a warrant if the officer suspects the individual might be subject to deportation. The three sections were rejected as pre-empting federal jurisdiction. The Supreme Court let stand a fourth provision, which allows police to investigate the immigration status of an individual if the officer has reason to suspect the person might be in the country illegally. In the ruling written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, the court said the so-called "show me your papers" provision didn't on its face conflict with the Constitution or impinge on federal jurisdiction. But Kennedy and the other four justices warned that the key to the provision's survival is that it is not interpreted in a way that prolongs the detention of people who are stopped by police.
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