Ruling in Arizona v. United States lets officers check immigration status during lawful stops, while striking down other elements of SB 1070.
WASHINGTON -- "We're disappointed in much of today's ruling, but the Supreme Court unanimously upheld the key right of law enforcement officials to inquire as to immigration status during traffic stops," said Susan A. Carleson, Chairman and CEO of the American Civil Rights Union (ACRU), which filed a Supreme Court brief in February in support of Arizona.
"If the federal government won't do the job of enforcing our border, we believe Arizona and other states have the constitutional right to defend it themselves," she said.
"Arizona is ground zero for the illegal immigration tidal wave, with over one-third of all illegal border crossings in the nation in that state alone," ACRU General Counsel Peter Ferrara wrote in the ACRU's Supreme Court brief. "This includes gang members in Mexican drug cartels and criminals fleeing their home countries south of the border. These heavily armed cartels even threaten the lives of state and federal law enforcement officers working in Arizona."
The ACRU brief defends Arizona's law under the Constitution's principle of federalism:
"The challenged Arizona law authorizes state law enforcement officers to cooperate with federal law enforcement on immigration matters, and imposes sanctions for immigration violations that consciously parallel federal law," the brief states.
"... Under the Constitution's framework of federalism, the states are sovereign governments, not creatures of the federal Congress dependent on federal statutes for authorization, like federal agencies."
The Court struck down provisions barring illegal immigrants from applying for jobs and providing for state enforcement of the federal requirement that non-citizens carry identification that says they are in the United States legally.