On Monday, June 25, 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court published its decision on the Arizona v. United States case, which challenged the constitutionality of Arizona’s immigration enforcement law, SB 1070. The Supreme Court decided by a 5 to 3 margin that, for the most part, Arizona’s attempt to manage federal immigration laws is indeed unconstitutional. The Court blocked three key components of the law, which attempted to:
- Make it a crime for immigrants to fail to register under a federal law.
- Make it a crime for undocumented immigrants to work or seek to obtain work.
- Allow Arizona police to arrest people without warrants in cases when the police have probable cause to believe the people have done things that would make them deportable under federal immigration law.
The Supreme Court was clear in its ruling that immigration law is within the federal domain. These three components were all pre-empted by federal law, the Supreme Court stated.
The Court did not, however, strike down one provision which allows Arizona police to determine the immigration status of people they lawfully stop, arrest or detain, in cases when the police are reasonably suspicious of the detained person’s immigration status. The Court clearly stated, however, that detaining people solely to verify their immigration status would be unconstitutional.