In the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision that upheld a section of Arizona’s immigration law, several U.S. cities and at least one state have taken jabs at the measure by proposing their own immigration policies.
The Supreme Court’s unanimous 8-0 ruling (Justice Elena Kagan did not vote) upholding the provision in S.B. 1070 allows Arizona law-enforcement officials to check the immigration status of anyone they stop, arrest or detain if the officer has “reasonable suspicion” the person is in the country illegally.
The court’s decision prompted responses across the country.
In Washington, D.C., the City Council unanimously passed a bill that detains only those who have been previously convicted of a serious crime or felony, and allows local police to hold immigration detainees no more than 24 hours beyond the time that they would otherwise be held. Detainees can only be held longer if the federal government pays the expense, and it prohibits city officials from participating in a “generalized search of or inquiry about inmates conducted by federal authorities.”
Chicago’s Safe Families Ordinance Act protects illegal immigrants from being detained unless they were convicted of a serious crime.
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) told Scribe, “This is a violation of a fundamental responsibility of law enforcement.”
“The federal government … threatened to cut off funds [to Chicago], or at least talked about it, but has not done it,” Sessions added. “They need to do it.”
Under California’s TRUST Act, local police officers would not be able to refer a detainee to immigration officials unless the perpetrator has been convicted of a “serious crime” or felony. The TRUST Act passed 21-13 in the California Senate in June and awaits decision from the Assembly.
“If we do detain people, it’s at our expense,” said author of the bill, Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-CA).
Police officer Scott Erickson, a contributor to The Foundry, said, “The passage of this bill is more of an affirmation of what has long been a de-facto, state-wide repudiation of any effort to improve the collaborative relationship between state and local law enforcement and their federal immigration counterparts.”
Erickson believes that while passage of the California bill may not impact police officers’ day-to-day activities, it will impact the state more broadly, especially considering that millions of illegal immigrants reside in California.
Given that nearby states like Arizona are creating a “less hospitable climate for illegal immigrants,” said Erickson, “it should be expected that many more illegal immigrants will flock to welcoming states like California.”
The United States needs “sensible reform of our immigration laws,” Heritage’s Jessica Zuckerman points out, particularly in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s decision in Arizona v. United States. This includes maintaining and increasing efforts to enhance border security, rejecting amnesty proposals, strengthening interior enforcement measures in the United States, reforming U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to handle legal immigration more effectively and efficiently, and enhancing temporary-worker programs to provide legal avenues of immigration that meet the needs of employers and immigrants.
“States should not have to beg the federal government for permission to enforce laws within their borders,” Zuckerman said. She notes that the United States is in an advantageous position to control its borders and thwart illegal immigration due to “the increase of manpower and technology along the border,” but that Congress and the administration must actually support the Supreme Court’s decision.
“In order for the Administration to create a ‘well-ordered’ immigration enforcement environment,” said Zuckerman, “it should not only focus on the removal of criminal aliens but also rebuild respect for the rule of law regarding immigration and workplace enforcement.”