Published on:

Controversial Arizona Immigration Law is Supreme Court-Bound

file0001885296805Arizona’s immigration law, passed in April 2010, has caused more than its share of controversy. It has sparked a court battle between the state government and the United States Department of Justice over the law’s constitutionality and the ability of the federal government to establish immigration policy for the whole nation. After a series of court decisions finding portions of the law unconstitutional, Arizona is taking the case to the Supreme Court. The Court announced on December 12, 2011, that it will hear arguments in April 2012.

The Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act requires police in Arizona to look into a person’s immigration status in some situations, leading critics to point out the high probability of harassment of Hispanics and other minorities. Certain provisions of the law seem tailor-made for racial profiling. The law allows law enforcement officers to make warrantless arrests if they find probable cause that a suspect has committed a deportable offense. Supporters of the law claim that it is a necessary tool to fight rising levels of crime, drug trafficking, and other problems accompanying illegal immigration into the state.

The Obama administration, meanwhile, has focused immigration enforcement efforts on individuals it deems to be dangerous criminals or imminent threats to public safety or national security. Immigrants who, despite lacking legal immigration status, have lived in the United States for years, perhaps raised families, and stayed out of trouble are treated as low-priority. This represents an effort to focus law enforcement resources on the individuals who can have the most adverse impact on the public. Arizona’s law, by contrast, casts a very wide net.

The U.S. Justice Department filed a lawsuit against the state of Arizona in July 2011 in an Arizona federal district court. The lawsuit asks the court to declare the Arizona law to be an unconstitutional infringement of federal immigration authority, to declare that federal immigration law preempts the state statute, and to issue an injunction barring enforcement of the Arizona law. A federal judge issued a preliminary injunction at the end of July, holding certain provisions of the law unconstitutional. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the decision in April 2011, leading to the Supreme Court’s decision this week to hear the case.

The lawsuit has drawn supporters from across the nation and abroad. Eleven U.S. states and as many as 81 members of the U.S. Congress filed amicus briefs in support of Arizona’s appeal. Eleven Latin American countries, including Mexico, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica filed an amicus brief supporting the United States’ position. Arizona’s law has inspired lawmakers in other states to propose, and sometimes pass, similar legislation. Immigrants across the country are feeling pressure from an increasingly anti-immigrant environment in many areas. The outcome of this case will have an impact all across the country.

The New Jersey immigration lawyers at Samuel C. Berger, PC help immigrants seeking work visas, investor visas, and other ways to come to, or remain in, the United States. To schedule a consultation with one of our skilled attorneys today, contact us online or at (201) 587-9200.

More Blog Posts:

Sister of New Jersey Cancer Patient Granted Visa to Try to Save Her Life, New Jersey Immigration Lawyer Blog, December 14, 2011
New Bill Proposes Helping Indonesians Remain Legally in New Jersey, New Jersey Immigration Lawyer Blog, December 13, 2011
Photo credit: kconnors from