Statement by NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell, Esq.
(San Francisco, CA, June 25, 2012)—Today, in a 5-3 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down three key provisions of the draconian Arizona immigration law, S.B. 1070, and upheld another provision for further judicial interpretation without reaching a final determination of its validity. Justice Elena Kagan abstained.
The Court struck down three sections of the law, including a provision that made it a crime for all documented immigrants to fail to carry registration documents at all times, a provision that made it a crime for immigrants to seek employment without a work permit, and a provision that authorized law enforcement to arrest any immigrant they believed had committed a “deportable offense.” The Court held that these portions of the law overreached into an area that has been reserved for federal law-making.
The Court upheld a fourth section of the law, the “papers please” provision, which requires law enforcement to check the immigration status of any immigrant whom they have stopped, detained, or arrested. Importantly, the Court left the door open to future litigation to determine whether enforcement of this provision conflicts with federal law. The decision comes in the midst of a reignited debate over the need for federal comprehensive immigration reform following the June 15, 2012 announcement from President Barack Obama that his administration will no longer seek to deport DREAM Act-eligible young people.
Statement by NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell, Esq.:
“Today’s decision is a victory for all those who value humanity and fairness. The Arizona law was a gratuitously punitive and discriminatory law. It allowed individuals to be blatantly profiled based solely on their race, without any evidence of criminal activity. None of us were made safer by this law, but we were all rendered less decent by its existence. The portions that were struck down did little besides empower law enforcement to target and harass. We are disappointed that any portion of the law remains. The provision that has been upheld practically invites law enforcement to rely on irrelevant factors such as race or perceived immigration status to selectively question someone’s legal right to be here. We are confident that further litigation efforts will ultimately strike down this unjust provision for good.
Today’s decision highlights the need for Congress to move swiftly to fix our broken immigration system. We need comprehensive and humane immigration reform that will keep families together instead of tearing them apart, allow hard-working people to seek employment and make a life for themselves and their loved ones, and ensure a path to equal access and opportunity for all those who work for it.”
The National Center for Lesbian Rights is a national legal organization committed to advancing the civil and human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their families through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education.