Today, June 25, 2012, the Supreme Court threw out key provisions of Arizona's crackdown on illegal immigrants but said a much-debated portion could go forward - that police must check the status of people stopped for various reasons who might appear to be in the U.S. illegally.
The court upheld the "show me your papers" requirement, but even there the justices said the provision could be subject to additional legal challenges. And they removed some teeth by prohibiting officers from arresting people on immigration charges.
The Obama administration had assailed the Arizona law as an unconstitutional intrusion into an area under Washington's control, and the court struck down provisions that would have made state crimes out of federal immigration violations.
President Obama said he was pleased that the court struck down key parts of Arizona's law but concerned about what the high court left intact. "No American should ever live under a cloud of suspicion just because of what they look like," the president said in a written statement. He said police in Arizona should not enforce the provision in a way that undermines civil rights.
Justice Anthony Kennedy said the law could - and suggested it should - be read to avoid concerns that status checks could lead to prolonged detention. The court struck down these three major provisions: requiring all immigrants to obtain or carry immigration registration papers, making it a state criminal offense for an illegal immigrant to seek work or hold a job and allowing police to arrest suspected illegal immigrants without warrants.
Even with the limitations the high court put on Arizona, the immigration status check still is "an invitation to racial profiling," said American Civil Liberties Union lawyer Omar Jadwat.