AZ's Immigration Law Goes to Supreme Court

By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on December 12, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The Supreme Court has agreed to consider the constitutionality of Arizona's immigration law, adding yet another blockbuster case to its docket. Oral arguments in Arizona v. United States are expected in April, which would place a final decision sometime in June.

The Court's decision will impact the nation's immigration policy on a grand scale. Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, South Carolina and Utah have all passed similar anti-immigration laws. The future of those laws will also be decided in this case, as they are also said to infringe on federal immigration powers.

The Justice Department challenged the Arizona immigration law last year on these grounds. Attorneys argued that federal statutes and Congress' exclusive constitutional authority to regulate immigration preempt the law.

The 9th Circuit agreed with this assessment in April, upholding an injunction granted by a lower court. That injunction prohibits the enforcement of four provisions that:

  1. Require police to determine the immigration status of anyone they believe to be undocumented;
  2. Allow police to carry out warrantless arrests if they have probable cause to believe that a person is deportable under federal law;
  3. Make it a state crime for an immigrant to fail to register under federal law; and
  4. Make it a state crime if an undocumented worker looks for or secures employment.

Arizona has argued that these provisions are necessary, as its 370-mile border with Mexico makes it a vulnerable to illegal immigration. However, the Justice Department believes that the statute invites civil rights violations, and makes it a state crime to be "unlawfully present in the United States."

Arguably, only Congress can decide whether someone is unlawfully in the country.

Keep an eye out for the Supreme Court's opinion of the Arizona immigration law. It may ultimately change how the country handles illegal immigration.

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