Nation's Highest Court Weighs in on SB 1070 by Ben Winograd
on April 25, 2012, in what could be the first of many cases over the validity of
Although most criticism of the law has focused on its potential for civil rights violations, the only question before the Justices was whether the Immigration and Nationality Act preempts four provisions of SB 1070 that were blocked by lower courts. While the ultimate fate of those provisions will not be known until a ruling is announced, a few preliminary observations can be made based on the questions posed by the Justices. To begin with, the government's preemption
state immigration laws.
arguments against Section 2(B)—which requires police to check the immigration status of all persons they
lmost two years to the day aſter Arizona enacted the notorious immigration law known as SB 1070, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments
stop if "reasonable suspicion" exists that they are in the country illegally—were met with great skepticism by the Court. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli had argued that requiring local officers to perform such checks would shiſt the federal government's resources to non-serious offenders, thereby disrupting its focus on noncitizens convicted of serious crimes. As Chief Justice John Roberts stated, however, simply asking immigration authorities whether a particular person is in the country illegally does not require the government to initiate removal proceedings against that person. Even if the Court liſts the injunction against Section 2(B), numerous Justices expressed concern during the arguments about whether it would lead to widespread constitutional violations. (Between the Justices and the advocates, the term "Fourth Amendment" was mentioned a dozen times during the argument.) For example, Justice Sonia Sotomayor asked Arizona'
PHOTO BY ANU JOSHI, AILA GRASSROOTS ADVOCACY ASSOCIATE