The United States Supreme Court exercised its discretion to refuse certain appeals when it decided not to review a lower court’s decision striking down parts of Arizona’s controversial immigration law. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals last year invalidated the portion of the law, S.B. 1070, which authorized the police to arrest those who harbor undocumented aliens residing in the state. That appellate court had determined that federal law already contains a prohibition against harboring such individuals. In making that ruling, the Court emphasized the primary role the federal government has in the area of immigration law. It also concluded that the law was too vague to be enforceable.
This is not the first part of that law which has been struck down by the courts. Previously, courts have either invalidated or blocked enforcement of a requirement that immigrants carry registration papers and a prohibition on undocumented aliens from pursuing employment in public places. These decisions, along with others which have upheld some provisions of the SB 1070, establish the contours in which states can legislate laws pertaining to immigration law, which, as mentioned above, has historically been the principal province of federal law.
One part of the law that has been upheld involves the authority of the police to question criminal suspects about their immigration status. A secondary effect of that decision is the suspicion it generates among Latinos about any type of interaction with governmental entities at any level. As an example, when President Obama recently addressed a Hispanic group to promote the Affordable Care Act – which has ostensibly no relationship to immigration policy – many people at the event expressed concern about whether those signing up for health insurance on the federal health care website or through Navigators – people who assist applicants in enrollment with health insurers – would be asked about their legal status.
In the meantime, it is critical, in the event that reform does become law that the immigration attorneys in this country be prepared for the new category of cases any new law is likely to generate. Edward Shulman, Esq, founder of The Shulman Law Group, LLC is a national speaker for the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). AILA is the national association of immigration lawyers established to promote justice, advocate for fair and reasonable immigration law and policy, and to advance the quality of immigration and nationality law and practice. In the course of Mr. Shulman’s involvement with AILA, he has been dedicated to educating other immigration attorneys about the import of helping intending immigrants to navigate a new cultural system. He meticulously follows all of the developments occurring in the battle over immigration reform so that he will be prepared to effectively assist his clients obtain either citizenship or residency if a new system is enacted.