The Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act (introduced as Arizona Senate Bill 1070 and thus often referred to simply as Arizona SB 1070) is a legislative Act in the U.S. state of Arizona that at the time of passage was the broadest and strictest anti-illegal immigration measure in recent U.S. history
“In the first months of the Obama administration, Rene was racially profiled by Tucson sheriffs, handed over to ICE and then deported. He then died in the desert when he tried to come back to be with his five children and his wife. He died because local laws allowed local sheriffs to racially profile him,” said Garcia. “I fear that the Supreme Court has just made it easier for people across the country to suffer or even die like this. This is why we must continue to fight and defeat this racist law.”
Prior to Arizona’s passage of SB-1070, the Obama administration continued and expanded George W. Bush–era immigration policies that were, until today, the most massive racial profiling programs to date. Known respectively as “287g” and “Secure Communities,” these controversial federal programs force local law enforcement agencies and officials to collaborate with federal immigration officials. (Ironically, the Supreme Court decision comes on the same day the Obama administration formally announced the long-expected phasing out of 278g.) Federal provisions expanding Secure Communities into every jurisdiction in the country by 2013 mean that every local cop in the nation has or will become a de facto immigration officer.
The Arizona case, lawyers said, could lead the Supreme Court to redraw long-established boundaries between the federal government and the states when it comes to immigration enforcement, which has been considered a nearly exclusive federal preserve.
If the court endorses any part of Arizona’s approach, it would provide a big lift to groups that campaign against illegal immigration, which have clamored for tough action by states, saying the federal government has failed to do its part. It could rekindle political battles in state legislatures, including in Georgia, where support for Arizona-style laws had begun to fade.
It coincided with economic anxiety and followed a number of high-profile crimes attributed to illegal immigrants and smuggling, though federal data suggest that crime is falling in Arizona, as it is nationally. The law’s supporters said it reflected frustration over inaction by the federal government, while critics said it would lead to harassment of Hispanics and turn the presumption of innocence upside down.
The Court relied heavily on the fact that Section 2(B) requires police officers to contact the federal government to verify an individual’s immigration status, which is something that police officers could do on their own initiative anyway (and which Congress has in fact encouraged state and local governments to do).
Much of the late April oral argument in the case focused on Section 2(B) of S.B. 1070, labeled by opponents as the “show me your papers” provision, which requires police officers to check the immigration status of anyone whom they arrest or detain and allows them to stop and arrest someone if they believe that he is an undocumented immigrant. At oral argument in April, it seemed likely that the provision could survive, and it did – at least for now.
Yes for provisions 1, 2, and 4; No for provision 3. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, writing for a 5-3 majority, reversed in part and affirmed in part. The Supreme Court held that provision 1 conflicts with the federal alien registration requirements and enforcement provisions already in place. Provision 2 is preempted because its method of enforcement interferes with the careful balance Congress struck with federal laws on unauthorized employment of aliens. Provision 4 is preempted because it usurps the federal government’s authority to use discretion in the removal process. This creates an obstacle to carrying out the purposes and objectives of federal immigration laws.
On July 6, 2010, the United States sought to stop the enforcement of S.B. 1070 in federal district court before the law could take effect. The district court did not enjoin the entire act, but it did enjoin four provisions. The court enjoined provisions that (1) created a state-law crime for being unlawfully present in the United States, (2) created a state-law crime for working or seeking work while not authorized to do so, (3) required state and local officers to verify the citizenship or alien status of anyone who was lawfully arrested or detained, and (4) authorized warrantless arrests of aliens believed to be removable from the United States.
Supporters of SB1070 argue that the law does not involve a racial or ethnic classification and can be neutrally applied. After signing the bill into law, Governor Brewer said her signature represents “steadfast support for enforcing the law — both against illegal immigration and against racial profiling.” She issued a state executive order to develop training for officers in protecting the civil rights of Arizona residents.
officers may not single out people based on their ethnic or racial identity. Officers must have a lawful reason to contact those persons to begin with. Moreover, a few days after its passage, the legislature voted to clarify the law. In its original version, the law only required a “lawful contact” by a police officer. The legislature changed this to “any lawful stop, detention or arrest.”