(WASHINGTON) — Police officers in Arizona are allowed to check the immigration status of every person who is stopped or arrested, the Supreme Court ruled Monday morning. But the court struck down other key parts of the law.
The controversial immigration law passed in Arizona two years ago and has been opposed by President Obama.
Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote that the policy could interfere with federal immigration law, but that the court couldn’t assume that it would.
The law — known as SB 1070 — was signed into law by Gov. Jan Brewer in April 2010, but immediately challenged by the Obama administration. A lower court sided with the administration and agreed to prevent four of the most controversial provisions from going into effect.
Besides the “show me your papers” provision, another criminalizes unauthorized work, a third makes it a state crime to fail to carry immigration papers, and a fourth allows the warrantless arrests when an officer has probable cause to believe a person has committed an offense that would result in deportation.
Other measures of the law were struck down, including a provision that made it a crime for undocumented immigrants to be in Arizona or seek work in the state.
In court, Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr. argued that the Constitution gives the federal government authority over immigration control and that the Arizona law interfered with existing federal law.
Verrilli said that while the federal government welcomes the assistance of state officers, Arizona is trying to adopt its own immigration policy while paying no heed to the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), the principal federal immigration statute that establishes the scheme for the regulation of immigration.
But Paul Clement, arguing on behalf of Arizona, argued that the law was passed because states are frustrated with the federal government’s efforts to curb illegal immigration. Clement said that the Arizona law was drafted to cooperate with existing federal law.
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