Today’s decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to consider the constitutionality of Arizona’s SB 1070 law means that states will soon have definitive guidelines for enforcing federal immigration laws. Key provisions of SB 1070 have been blocked by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, including one that requires police to act upon reasonable suspicion that an individual is violating federal immigration laws. A ruling in the case is likely to be handed down before the Court’s usual adjournment in the summer of 2012.
While it is always foolhardy to predict how the Supreme Court will rule in any case, FAIR welcomes the Court’s decision to consider the case. Earlier this year, in another case involving Arizona’s requirement that all employers use the federal E-Verify system, the Court ruled decisively that states have a legitimate and important role to play in immigration enforcement. It must also be noted that Justice Elena Kagan, an Obama appointee, has recused herself from ruling on the case because of her earlier role in promoting the administration’s case against Arizona when she served as Solicitor General.
A favorable ruling by the Supreme Court would clear the way for other states to adopt similar laws. These state laws have proven to discourage many illegal aliens from settling or remaining in those states. Even though laws like SB 1070 are no substitute for firm federal enforcement, if more states adopt similar policies in the aftermath of a favorable Supreme Court ruling, there will be fewer places where illegal aliens will be able to live, work and access public benefits and services.