US Supreme Court Arizona v. US 11-182
by, 06-27-12 at 02:08 PM (914 Views)
So Arizona passed a law which mimicked federal immigration laws in order to give their own peace officers authority to deal with illegal immigrants. It's questionable whether or not that's constitutional, since the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution allows the federal government to decide that certain areas of law are off limits to state lawmakers. In this case, there are four sections of the Arizona law which were challenged.
Section 3 made it a state misdemeanor not to comply with federal alien registration requirements. The Supreme Court held that Congress has already regulated this field so completely that it leaves no room for the states to add their own laws, and struck this section down.
Section 5(c) made it a state crime for an alien to seek employment without proper federal authorization. The Supreme Court held that this interferes with the federal legal structure already in place (which punishes the employer, but specifically doesn't punish the employee). This section of the law was struck down.
Section 6 authorized state peace officers to arrest people who were subject to removal from the US. The Supreme Court held that this interferes with federal law (the removal of unauthorized aliens is governed by federal regulations, and this law would have required state peace officers to make arrests not authorized under federal guidelines). Struck down.
Section 2(b) required officers who stopped someone to check with the feds on the detainee's immigration status. Since Congress has already encouraged the sharing of information between state and federal agencies, this section was allowed to stand for now. The Supreme Court put Arizona on notice that this one might get struck down too, depending on unforeseen consequences to the way that it is enforced.
Given that we already leave the enforcement of federal laws to federal law enforcement officers, this one really has limited impact on immediate decision making by the police. It's more relevant to state lawmaking bodies, making it more clear what laws they can and cannot pass.