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Experts Weigh In on Arizona's Immigration Law Experts Weigh In on Arizona's Immigration Law

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Experts Weigh In on Arizona's Immigration Law

Perspectives contributors offer their points of view on the ramifications of the Supreme Court's decision.


The Supreme Court in Washington, Monday, June 25, 2012.(AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

The Supreme Court announced Monday its opinion on the Arizona immigration bill, deciding to uphold the “Show Me Papers” provision, while overturning the three other contested sections. We’ve asked our Perspectives contributors, a diverse collection of think tanks, advocates and leaders in their fields, to tell us what they thought on the ruling.

Here’s what they had to say.

Asian American Justice Center

Mee Moua, executive director for the Asian American Justice Center, applauded the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn several provisions within S.B. 1070, but was cautious about the surviving provision.


While she felt that the ruling based on federal preemption was an appropriate decision, she maintained that the AAJC was “concerned about the application of the ‘Show Me Papers’ provision,” adding, “I think it’s very unclear what reasonable suspicion translates into.”

“In my mind, based on the language that’s in the decision, is now being a person of color or speaking English with an accent, is that now similar to slurred speech or alcohol on the breath?”

She later added, “It’s not just about being Latino but it is a concern to us for the community of color as a whole.”


Brookings Institution

Audrey Singer, a senior fellow at Brookings Institution, a nonprofit public policy research organization, wrote that Arizona will face serious social and fiscal implications in light of the decision.

Singer saw three key consequences resulting from this decision: how it affects Arizona's law enforcement, how it addresses the comprehensive issue of illegal immigration and how it touches on other attempts by states to police the issue.

"First, Arizona’s law enforcement officials will have to pay considerable attention to enforcement practices to avoid racial profiling when determining the status of people they encounter," Singer wrote in a statement. "The standards of 'reasonable suspicion' and law enforcement procedures are fuzzy; there is potential for racial profiling of Latinos and other minorities. Aware of this, the Supreme Court made it clear that they would be open to hearing additional cases in the future related to the “show me your papers” clause of S.B. 1070.

She added: "Second, S.B. 1070 does not address the prioritization of deportation and the Obama Administration’s announcement on temporary relief earlier this month. If those who meet the qualifications for prosecutorial discretion will not be placed in deportation proceedings, the issue, then, becomes financial--how will Arizona justify the detention of those DHS has no intention of removing?


"Finally, the reach extends beyond Arizona. States like Alabama, Georgia and Utah, who have crafted their own enforcement legislation and are facing similar rulings and apprehension, are keenly interested in how these decisions and implementation will play out on the ground."

Cato Institute

Two contributors from the Cato Institute, a think tank committed to the values of free markets, limited government and individual liberty, maintain that the ruling reiterates the dire need for comprehensive immigration reform by the federal government, noting the adverse effects already felt on the state’s economy.

The decision made it clear that it is not “some baby-splitting grand compromise but rather that this is a really complex area of law,” said Ilya Shapiro, Cato’s legal scholar. “My own view most closely aligns with Judge Alito’s—I would uphold three of the four provisions.”

Shapiro later added, “In short, immigration policy by either state action or executive whim won’t cut it. The federal government—Congress and the president, working out that grand compromise—needs to fix our broken immigration system."

"As a policy matter this decision changes little. Arizona’s immigration laws have already driven about 200,000 people from the state,” wrote Alex Nowrasteh, the immigration-policy analyst at the Cato Institute's Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity, in a statement.

“Those people took their investments, businesses, purchasing power, mortgage payments, and economic activity to other states. As a result the property price decline in Phoenix was the second worse of any metropolitan area in the U.S., the unemployment rate has been consistently higher than its neighbors, and business investment has left the state. Today's SCOTUS opinion will not reverse the economic harm caused by years of misguided state-level immigration laws.  In this decision the SCOTUS has made it clear that only a federal solution can solve the immigration mess.”

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