The Supreme Court today struck down most of Arizona's controversial law aimed at cracking down on illegal immigrants.
The court left standing only the "check your papers" part of the law that requires state and local police to perform roadside immigration checks of people they've stopped or detained if a "reasonable suspicion" exists they are in the country illegally.
The court indicated, however, that even that section could face further legal challenges.
The court rejected the parts of the law that:
- Make it a state crime for illegal immigrants not to possess their federal registration cards;
- Make it a crime for illegal imigrants to work, apply for work or solicit work;
- Allow state and local police to arrest illegal immigrants without a warrant when probable cause exists that they committed "any public offense that makes the person removable from the United States."
The law, known as SB1010, has become a flashpoint for the debate over how to enforce immigration in the U.S. and served as a blueprint for similar laws in five other states - Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, South Carolina and Utah.
President Obama called the Arizona law "misguided" and his Department of Justice sued the state. Former Massachusetts governor and GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney said he would drop the federal lawsuit against Arizona and adopted the Arizona-inspired idea of making life so difficult for illegal immigrants that they choose to "self-deport."
Four key provisions of the law were blocked by U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton in Phoenix, a ruling that was upheld by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court in San Francisco. The Supreme Court agreed to hear the case, and both sides held oral arguments on April 25.
Sponsors said the law was necessary because the federal government has failed to control the influx of illegal immigrants into the country, forcing states like Arizona to grapple with the security concerns and high costs of educating and caring for illegal immigrants. They said the law simply empowers police and state officials to help enforce federal immigration laws.
Opponents said it unfairly criminalizes otherwise law-abiding people, opens the door for racial profiling of Hispanics legally in the country and forces state law enforcement to interfere with the intricacies of federal immigration policy.