December 12, The case, Arizona v. US , will be heard next spring by eight justices, with Justice Elena Kagan recusing herself from consideration of the appeal.
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Like the health-care reform debate, the immigration fight also highlights conflicting approaches to a difficult national problem. The question is how best to address a chronic crisis of porous borders and rampant illegal immigration. There are currently an estimated 10 to 12 million undocumented immigrants in the US.
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The problem is not unique to Arizona, nor is the federal-state legal battle. In addition to the Arizona law, the Obama administration is fighting to overturn tough immigration-related state laws passed in Alabama , Georgia , Indiana , Utah , and South Carolina.
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In response to the perceived failure of the federal government to secure the border, Arizona legislators passed a state law to permit local and state officials to aggressively enforce immigration prohibitions. SB also made it a state crime for an undocumented immigrant to work as an employee or independent contractor in Arizona. It authorized state law enforcement officials to arrest without a warrant any person the officer had probable cause to believe committed a crime that would render them deportable from the US.
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And in its most criticized provision, SB required state and local law enforcement officials to check the immigration status of anyone stopped or detained if the officer had reasonable suspicion the individual was present in the US illegally. Immigrant rights groups objected to the new state law, saying it would lead to illegal racial profiling and harassment of legal immigrants and citizens of Hispanic appearance.
The Obama administration entered the dispute, filing a lawsuit in federal court seeking to block implementation of SB A federal judge agreed that the state law clashed with immigration enforcement priorities of the Obama administration. Four key provisions of the law were struck down because the judge said they were preempted by federal immigration laws.
A panel of the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the decision, ruling that there were no possible circumstances in which the challenged provisions could be enforced without violating the Constitution. Although the case involves provisions of immigration law, the underlying dispute between Arizona and the Obama administration is over opposing conceptions of federal and state power. In contrast, the Obama administration argues that the power of the national government trumps any authority claimed by the states to aggressively enforce immigration laws.
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The clash is further heightened by the politics of race and voter demographics. Latinos are the fastest growing immigrant group in the nation and Democrats are hopeful that they will become a potential game-changing force in American politics, helping to convert Republican red states and swing states into solid Democrat-voting blue states.
In his brief to the court, US Solicitor General Donald Verrilli says immigration laws passed by Congress allow federal officials the discretion to decide the proper balance between tough law enforcement sanctions, foreign policy considerations, and humanitarian concerns. Verrilli wrote.
Arizona officials maintain that they are engaging in a form of cooperative federalism — a state using its laws and resources to help the national government fight illegal immigration.
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The Obama administration says such state efforts are neither cooperative nor helpful. They are designed to second-guess and frustrate federal policy, officials say.
The solicitor general says immigration laws allow significant discretion to federal officials to set such national priorities. The national government has the power to preempt state laws that undercut those priorities, he said. In his brief to the high court, Mr. Clement said it is Congress that wields the power to determine the substance of cooperative federalism between the states and the national government in matters of immigration enforcement — not a selective reading of the statutes by Obama administration officials.
Congress did not preempt the states from aggressively enforcing the letter and spirit of provisions enshrined in federal law, he said. Never mind. It was enough for those with limited reading time to sniff racism in the Arizona air.
Out-of-staters descended on Arizona to evidence their displeasure. Hostile audiences sought to shout her down. Meanwhile, Mexican flags were being waved in the air.
That seems not so bad a thing, weighed against the hypercombativeness of the opposition to S. The issues at stake are enormous. It helps to know they stir emotions at a deep level, even if the stirring of those emotions prevents easy resolution. They see being proud to be an American as an expression not of pride but of prejudice.
They find it kind of embarrassing. Recognition of her concerns is what she seems to hanker for the most; her concerns and those of the Arizonans, seemingly a majority for now, who dislike a lot of things going on in their country and want some changes made - and certain other changes unmade. Brewer calls S. President: Do your job.
Secure our border! How Palinesque Mrs.