Arguments on SB 1070 begin Wednesday at U.S. Supreme Court

April 24, 2012

Arizona will defend its controversial piece of immigration legislation before the Supreme Court on Wednesday. At issue is whether the state law complements or conflicts with federal law. From Phoenix, Devin Browne reports.

DEVIN BROWNE: The court is reviewing a lower court injunction that blocked several provisions of Senate Bill 1070. These include the requirement that local police check the immigration papers of anyone they stop, arrest, or detain if the officer has "reasonable suspicion" the person is in the country illegally. Tom Fitton with Judicial Watch, the group that filed an amicus brief on behalf of 1070 sponsor Russell Pearce, says that the state law only furthers federal policy.

TOM FITTON: There is plenty of federal law that contemplates cooperation between local law enforcement and the feds, and to wall this area off -- it strikes me as an odd effort, and one I think that's going to be turned aside by the court.

BROWNE: Experts say 1070, as written, would re-orient federal priorities, which right now focus on unauthorized immigrants who have committed larger crimes. The Obama Administration will argue that Arizona's law discombobulates their efforts. Meanwhile, other provisions from 1070 that survived the injunction remain in effect – for example, fining cities that pass "sanctuary" policies and allowing citizens to sue local police departments for limiting the enforcement of immigration laws.

ALESSANDRA SOLER MEETZE: And I think this provision in particular has put pressure on local police departments to make immigration enforcement a priority.

BROWNE: That's Alessandra Soler Meetze, director of Arizona's ACLU. She notes the Supreme Court's ruling will not directly effect the provisions that made it through the injunction. As for the four that were enjoined -- the high court is expected to issue a decision in June. 

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