The U.S. Supreme Court this morning issued a 5-3 decision that struck down much of Arizona’s controversial anti-immigration law, concluding that most of the laws provisions were in conflict with federal laws. But the court did allow to stand the law’s most controversial feature—giving police the authority to stop and detain someone they suspect of being deportable, which many critics say results in clear racial profiling.
But the justices narrowed the authority of Arizona law enforcement by stating it is the the federal government that has the ultimate authority to decide who will be held on immigration charges and deported. So while Arizona police can stop people they suspect are illegal immigrants, they have to check with federal immigration agents before deciding whether they can hold suspects. The justices also struck down the provision in the law that made it a crime for illegal immigrants to seek work.
Since it let stand the provision that allows police to stop anyone they suspect of being illegal, it’s not immediately clear how the court decision will affect other states such as Georgia, South Carolina, Indiana and Utah that have adopted laws modeled after Arizona.
“I think it’s really great for immigrant rights advocates and immigrants,” Professor Bill Hing of the University of San Francisco School of Law, told CBS News. “Especially since [Chief Justice John] Roberts went along with this.”
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Because the court wasn’t considering whether the law allowed racial discrimination in the way police conducted stops, immigration advocates have a chance now to attempt to bring that case to the court.
The 5-3 decision was written by Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, with Justices Samuel A. Alito Jr., Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas dissenting. Justice Elena Kagan was recused because of her previous role as solicitor general. Justices Samuel A. Alito Jr., Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas dissented.