Immigration Law Associates, PC

SB 1070 Decision Makes Way for Continuing Legal Disputes

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In 2010, not long after Arizona approved SB 1070, the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona joined with other civil rights organizations and filed a suit on behalf of twenty four individuals who believed the law to be unconstitutional. The ACLU argued that the law would lead to racial profiling and that the state of Arizona did not have the authority to make or to enforce immigration policy. The case eventually reached the Supreme Court. Opening arguments began on April 25, 2012.

On June 25th, Supreme Court issued its decision on SB 1070. It struck down three of the law’s four provisions, but upheld the provision that “requires state law enforcement officials to determine the immigration status of anyone they stop or arrest if they have reason to suspect that the individual might be in the country illegally” (NY Times, 6/26/12). The “if” and “might” provisions are unclear, and extremely speculative as well as totally subjective. However, the Court also ruled that it does not foreclose other “constitutional challenges to the law as interpreted and applied after it goes into effect,” as stated by Justice Kennedy.

Both the opponents and proponents of the SB 1070 ruling are now preparing for a long legal battle in the wake of the Court’s decision. The opponents will attack the methodology – such factors as accent, the color of a person’s skin, the ability to speak English – used to determine what constitutes “reasonable suspicion” that a certain person is an illegal immigrant. Such a methodology is considered racial profiling and is unconstitutional.

Proponents of the law, on the other hand, will fight using a little-known provision of SB 1070 that grants individual taxpayers the right to sue law enforcement agencies they suspect of failing to rigorously enforce the law” (Huffington Post, 6/28/12). At present, proponents are happy with the outcome of the Court’s decision. Arizona’s Governor Jan Brewer (R) proclaimed the ruling a “victory for the rule of law” and for “the inherent right and responsibility of states to defend their citizens.”

As the ACLU prepares to gather stories of people who are stopped and quizzed about their immigration status by law enforcement officials, we can be assured of many heated disputes in the months to come. Once first hand accounts of the victims of SB 1070 are made public, the whole of the United States will be able to see the injustice in this law. It is, without a doubt, a law that regresses back to a time when racial profiling was Constitutional, and such a law is inhumane and exceedingly out of date.

For more information, please visit source 1 and source 2.

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