Ever since a controversial immigration law was passed in Arizona, there has been legal opposition to the legislation. Now, the United States Supreme Court is reviewing that law, which requires police to check immigration status of people who are stopped during actions and which police believe may be undocumented immigrants. The law requires immigrants to carry immigration documents with them at all times to prove their status – at the risk of jail time. The law has sparked significant debate and controversy, highlighting immigration laws at the state and federal levels.
The law was passed in part because Arizona shares a border with Mexico and some Arizona residents and lawmakers were concerned that federal efforts to stem the tide of undocumented immigration into the state were insufficient. Governor Jan Brewer stated that she hoped the laws would make conditions so unpleasant for undocumented immigrants that those in the state illegally would simply choose to leave Arizona. According to some estimates, there are 460,000 undocumented immigrants in the state.
The legislation does have some popular support in Arizona and some states. Advocates of the laws say that there are approximately 8 million undocumented immigrants in the US. With 22 million people in the US without full-time employment, some argue that undocumented immigration harms the job search and even contributes to crime. Although the Obama administration has deported record numbers of individuals, some feel that too little is being done to stop undocumented immigration. Some of the proponents of Arizona’s law also feel that undocumented immigrants effectively thumb their nose at US laws while other immigrants spend considerable money and in some cases wait years to immigrate into the US legally.
Those who oppose Arizona’s law point out that only the federal government has the right to create and enforce immigration legislation. Some also feel that the new immigration laws are unfair and encourage racial profiling in some cases. Those who oppose Arizona’s immigration laws also note that immigrants boost the economy and are crucial for many industries.
If the Supreme Court agrees that Arizona’s immigration laws are legal, it could push other states to pass similarly tough immigration laws. If the law is upheld, it could also set a precedent for more state say about immigration issues, moving immigration from a federal issue to one that could be decided by states. If the law is not upheld, there could be more pressure for the federal government to take more concrete action about undocumented immigration. It is expected that a decision could be available by June.