U.S. Supreme Court to hear arguments on Ariz. immigration law

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by Kristine Harrington

azfamily.com

Posted on April 24, 2012 at 11:46 AM

Updated Tuesday, Apr 24 at 12:01 PM

PHOENIX -- The stage is set this week for a Supreme Court hearing on Arizona’s controversial immigration law.

While there are opposing views on SB 1070, both sides hope the focus will resolve some of the issues surrounding illegal immigration.
 
“It's about state's rights, Arizona’s right to enforce the law, Arizona’s right to protect citizens, Arizona’s right to protect the honest employer from the dishonest employer,” said former state Sen. Russell Pearce, the architect of Senate Bill 1070. 
 
Pearce said he is feeling confident about this week’s Supreme Court argument. “The purpose of the law was to take the handcuffs off law enforcement guys and gals let them do their job,” said Pearce.
 
Many people are worried that could lead to civil rights violations.
 
“The state of Arizona allowing police officers to enforce immigration laws will lead to rampant racial profiling,” said attorney Daniel Ortega, who is representing the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational fund in its lawsuit against Arizona.
 
Pearce disagrees: “I believe in civil liberties so we put in that officers must have legitimate and reasonable suspicion before asking those though questions like are you here legally,” said Pearce.
 
Still, attorney Daniel Ortega has some concerns.
 
“Is it the color of your hair, color of your skin, an accent?” asked Ortega.  “What is it that gives him reasonable suspicion?”
 
It's a challenge that's not likely to come up at the Supreme Court. Rather, the government is arguing preemption - that federal law supersedes state law.
 
“States have inherited police powers and 1070 should never have been necessary,” said Pearce. “There's never been preemption that’s the same argument they had with employer sanctions and that we won in a 5-4 decision.”
 
With so many states considering similar legislation, there is a fear that the country could end up with a patchwork of laws and for that reason, regardless of the Supreme Court's ruling, both sides are hoping this debate forces federal officials to take action.
 
“It's a wakeup call to whole country, not just Congress, but Congress needs to get off its duff and do something about this,” said Ortega.
 
The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on Wednesday but a ruling is not expected until June.

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