Wednesday, the Supreme Court heard arguments on the constitutionality of Arizona's immigration law SB 1070, an issue examined recently by U.S. News's Debate Club. At the heart of the case is how much immigration enforcement states can take into their own hands, as the Constitution places immigration under the federal government's jurisdiction. Argues Arizona Democratic Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva,
Allowing Arizona to write its own immigration law threatens the federal system of governance that has facilitated more than two centuries of American success. It would open the door for a patchwork of wildly differing state standards that undermine the purpose and intent of a cohesive national immigration policy.
However, Robert Alt, deputy director of the Center for Legal and Judicial Studies at The Heritage Foundation, insists that the Arizona legislation does not interfere with federal law and thus should be upheld. In fact, he says, "The law encourages the cooperative enforcement of federal immigration law in Arizona.
Among the most controversial aspects of the law is a provision that allows law enforcement to look into the immigration status of any person they stop, which some, including Illinois Democratic Rep. Luis Gutierrez, believe will lead to racial profiling. However proponents say that SB 1070 prohibits any sort of racial discrimination in using the law. Furthermore, they argue, Arizona experiences higher than average instances of illegal immigration, and thus has every right to enforce more stringent immigration regulations. "SB 1070, in full accordance with federal law, removes the handcuffs from state and local law enforcement,"says Russell Pearce, the author of SB 1070.
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