Editorial: Court's decision makes it clear that immigration is a federal issue
BY World's Editorials Writers
Wednesday, June 27, 2012
6/27/12 at 3:36 AM
The U.S. Supreme Court made it clear in Monday's decision that immigration law and enforcement is a duty of the federal government, not the states.
The court ruled that three of the provisions in Arizona's tough 2010 immigration law were unconstitutional. The court, however, unanimously sustained the part of the law that requires state law enforcement officials to determine the legal status of those they arrest, if arresting officers have reason to believe they might be illegal immigrants. It is known as the "show me your papers" provision.
The court did leave open possible challenges to the provision.
The provisions blocked by the court included: making it a crime under state law for immigrants to fail to register under federal law, making it a crime for illegal immigrants to work or to try to find work, and allowing the police to arrest people without warrants if they have probable cause to believe they have done something that would make them deportable under federal law.
Both sides claimed victory, but the ruling seems to make it clear that immigration policy falls under federal authority.
The ruling also sets a clear path. If states such as Arizona and Oklahoma, among others, continue to pursue their own course of immigration reform, they face further costly court fights, ones they are almost certain to lose.
The court also left open the door to a challenge to the remaining provision of the Arizona law. It seemed to be saying that if someone in Arizona can bring a case showing that an officer illegally detained an immigrant, then that remaining portion of the law would face a serious court challenge.
The court's message that immigration is a federal responsibility was clear. That message ought to be understood and embraced by the executive and legislative branches of the government. The illegal immigration issue was caused by the inability and reluctance of presidents and Congresses to tackle this important issue. States, frustrated by years of inaction in Washington, took it upon themselves to "solve" the problem, usually with draconian and unconstitutional laws.
The Supreme Court's decision was clear, and it's now time for the states to drop their heavy-handed and costly enforcement of immigration and apply the pressure to their congressional representatives, senators and president. They have had a free ride on this issue for too long.
Original Print Headline: Clear decision