Immigration and Citizenship

TV (NY1): Immigration law arguments heard by Supreme Court

By: Erin Billups

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Arizona’s laws requiring police to check the immigration status of those suspected of being in the country illegally have been scrutinized by the public since its 2010 passage. As the country’s highest court began to pick it apart Wednesday, it became clear it’s possible the justices will uphold the law, at least in part.

“I feel very confident, as I walked out of there, that we will get a favorable ruling in late June,” said Arizona Governor Jan Brewer.

The judges focused mainly on whether Arizona’s law conflicts with federal statutes and very little on the other provisions including one making it a crime for illegal immigrants to work.

The Solicitor General argued that immigration enforcement should fall to the federal government, pointing to mass incarceration and damaged foreign relations as possible repercussions.

“The [C]onstitution is very clear that the nation must speak with one voice with respect to immigration policy,” said Elizabeth Wydra, Constitutional Accountability Center Chief Counsel.

The justices, though, did not seem convinced by the government’s argument. At one point, liberal Justice Sonya Sotomayor told the Solicitor General that his arguments were not selling very well, asking him to “try and come up with something else.”

While many of those outside of the Supreme Court are protesting Arizona’s law as legalized racial profiling, the court actually didn’t address the issue of ethnic profiling during the hearing.”

“That’s been their political sound bites. It’s not true,” said Russell Pearce, Arizona Immigration Law Author.

Pearce, the former legislator who penned the bill, and Governor Brewer, call the Obama administration’s dispute with their law- pure politics.

“They’re playing to the Latino community and they’re trying to use that scare card if you will to generate support for elections,” Brewer said.

Still, those who travelled to Washington to protest the measure argue their concerns about racial profiling are relevant.

“It’s about the way that the country upholds and respects the justice and the dignity of the all the people that are living here,” said Daniel Coates of Make the Road NY.

With Justice Elena Kagan recusing herself from the case, there is a possibility of a 4-4 split, preventing Arizona from enforcing its laws.

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