Immigration remained in the headlines on Monday as the U.S. Supreme Court struck down several key provisions of a controversial Arizona law that sought to crack down on illegal immigrants.
In a 5 to 3 decision, the Supreme Court struck down three provisions, ruling that only the federal government has the authority to set immigration policy and laws.
"The National Government has significant power to regulate immigration," Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion.
He added, "Arizona may have understandable frustrations with the problems caused by illegal immigration while that process continues, but the State may not pursue policies that undermine federal law."
The court struck down provisions authorizing police to arrest suspected illegal immigrants without warrants, requiring immigrants to carry registration papers, and making it a crime for an illegal immigrant to seek employment.
However, the Supreme Court upheld one of the law's most controversial provisions that requires police to check the immigration status of anyone detained and suspected of being in the country illegally.
Kennedy noted that the so called "show me your papers" provision cannot be implemented in a discriminatory way or it could be subject to additional legal challenges.
Opponents of the Arizona law claimed it would lead to the harassment of Hispanic-Americans, while supporters claimed that the provisions were necessary due to the federal government's failure to enforce immigration laws.
In a statement on the ruling, President Barack Obama said, "I am pleased that the Supreme Court has struck down key provisions of Arizona's immigration law."
"What this decision makes unmistakably clear is that Congress must act on comprehensive immigration reform," he added. "A patchwork of state laws is not a solution to our broken immigration system - it's part of the problem."
At the time, Obama said he remains concerned about the impact of the remaining provision, adding, "No American should ever live under a cloud of suspicion just because of what they look like."
Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor joined Kennedy in the majority, while Justices Antonin Scalia, Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas dissented.
Writing for the minority, Scalia argued that the court's decision to strike down the law's key provisions encroaches on Arizona's sovereignty.
"Arizona has moved to protect its sovereignty — not in contradiction of federal law, but in complete compliance with it," Scalia wrote.
"The laws under challenge here do not extend or revise federal immigration restrictions, but merely enforce those restrictions more effectively," he added. "If securing its territory in this fashion is not within the power of Arizona, we should cease referring to it as a sovereign State."
Scalia also took a swipe at Obama's recently announced decision to halt the deportation of certain young illegal immigrants.
Justice Elena Kagan sat out the case because of her previous work as Solicitor General in the Obama administration.
by RTT Staff Writer
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