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COURT OVERTURNS MAJORITY OF ARIZONA IMMIGRATION LAW; NARROWLY UPHOLDS ITS MOST CONTROVERSIAL PART

 

Washington, DC--Congressman Eliot Engel (D-NY-17) issued the following statement after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down three out of four provisions of S.B. 1070, the controversial Arizona state immigration law.  The Court invalidated the parts of the law making it a misdemeanor for immigrants to fail to carry identification proving their legal status, making it a crime for illegal immigrants to apply for a job, and allowing for arrests based solely on suspicion of illegal status.  It did not strike down the “show me your papers” provision which requires every Arizona law enforcement officer to verify the immigration status of every person stopped, arrested or detained if the officer has “reasonable suspicion” of illegal status. 

“This is a victory for those in favor of immigration reform and for those who oppose knee-jerk reactionary responses to the very real problem of illegal immigration.  The fear that the ‘show me your papers’ provision will lead to increased racial profiling is probable, and the Court’s decision to punt on that until a later date is disappointing.  However, I am pleasantly surprised to see this Court decide to strike down the rest of this law.  Clearly, immigration reform must be done and it must be done sooner rather than later.  Immigration reform is a federal issue and it must be done by the federal government.  Arizona’s government is correct about one thing – we have delayed addressing this issue for too long in Washington,” said Rep. Engel.

In a 5-3 decision, the three provisions were struck down, but the Court decided that it was not clear if Arizona was supplanting or supporting federal policy with the “show me your papers” provision.  They let the provision stand for now, stating that it could be subject to additional legal challenges.  It said the federal government could not block this provision before state courts had a chance to interpret it and without determining if it conflicts with federal immigration law. 

“I supported the McCain/Kennedy reform bill which passed the Senate during the Bush Administration but was effectively killed by the Republican-controlled House.  Immigration was supposedly solved under President Reagan, but we failed to protect our borders or reform the system and now we are back in the same situation.  The 11 million illegal aliens are not going anywhere, and we must figure out a path to citizenship for them, secure our borders, and fix our immigration system.  President Obama took a huge first step this month by halting deportations of illegal immigrants under the age of 30, who came here illegally when they were children, and who are currently in school, graduated from high school or are military veterans.  Only together can we solve this problem – and not with 50 different state laws.  The time has long passed for Congress to act, and we must do so before even more states attempt to do what Arizona tried,” added Rep. Engel.

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