The Supreme Court's decision to both uphold and strike down Arizona’s controversial immigration law known as SB1070 reflects a fissure among Americans that no mid-June decision by the justices will resolve.
Immigration, the border, and documentation will continue to be a part of the national conversation, the political stage, and the courts for some time to come.
In April, the United Technologies/National Journal Congressional Connection Poll found that a majority of Americans supported key elements of Arizona’s illegal-immigration law. A majority also rejected the option of deporting the 11 million immigrants here illegally. An even larger percentage believed that young people brought to the U.S. illegally should be able to stay if they attend college or join the military.
And this month, a poll by the Pew Hispanic Center, a nonpartisan Washington think tank, found that 58 percent of Americans approve of the law, compared with 38 percent who oppose. The opinion was divided along racial and ethnic lines: 75 percent of Hispanics opposed, as did 56 percent of blacks. The majority, 69 percent, of whites supported the law.
In a recent column, National Journal polticial director Ronald Brownstein points out traits common to all Americans: We’re committed to enforcing the rule of law. But we’re also a pragmatic and humane bunch.
We apparently also love a debate.
Earlier this month, the president announced that the administration would halt the deportations of certain young people in the country illegally, sparking a fierce and, at times, partisan discussion over what should be done about the estimated 11 million people here illegally.
The debate reached a fever pitch on Monday morning when the Supreme Court ruled on SB1070.
About 50,000 people signed in to SCOTUSblog to watch reporters inside the Court blog live. By noon, hashtags #SB1070, #SCOTUS, and #Arizona dominated Twitter.
Hundreds filled out an informal poll on the Arizona Republic’s website: by 7 p.m. ET, 36.4 percent of those who responded thought that today’s winners were Arizona residents. The next largest share, 33.8 percent, said nobody won.
Reactions in the social-media universe were also mixed.
“How sad SB1070 section 2B permits the police act as immigration agents was approved, sad racism against Hispanics,” @OMARSANCHEZOMI tweeted in Spanish.
SB1070 supporters let their voices be heard too.
"SOOOO SICK of hearing about how 'controversial' SB 1070. It's about asking for freaking i.d. people," tweeted @KatiePavlich.
It seemed everyone weighed in, many simultaneously claiming victory and expressing reservations about the ruling: Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, President Obama, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., the immigrant-rights group the National Council of La Raza, the American Civil Liberties Union, restrictionist advocacy and grassroots organizing groups the Federation for American Immigration Reform and NumbersUSA—even the Mexican government.
(Read related story here.)
Spanish-language media covered the story exhaustively. Telemundo posted a video, explaining to immigrants what to do if they are detained.