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5:58 PM Tue, Nov. 13th

Courts uphold portion of Arizona's immigration law

Arizona law drafter calls Supreme Court ruling a 'victory'

Governor Jan Brewer

Governor Jan Brewer

KINGMAN - Everyone is claiming victory after Monday's U.S. Supreme Court decision on SB 1070, Arizona's illegal immigration law.

The court unanimously upheld the portion of the law that required law enforcement officers investigating an offense to check the immigration status of anyone they suspected of being in the state illegally.

But three of the justices - Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito - opposed the decision to throw out three other provisions of the law. Those sections of the law included: a requirement that all immigrants carry their immigration papers with them, making it a state crime for illegal immigrants to seek work in Arizona and a section allowing law enforcement officers to arrest illegal immigrants without a warrant.

The opinion can be found at www.supremecourt.gov. The case is Arizona v. U.S.

Shortly after the court's opinion was aired, various organizations and public federal, state and local government officials and candidates started to flood the airwaves and the Internet with their opinion of the court's decision.

"Today's decision by the U.S. Supreme Court is a victory for the rule of law. It is also a victory for the 10th Amendment and all Americans who believe in the inherent right and responsibility of states to defend their citizens. After more than two years of legal challenges, the heart of SB 1070 can now be implemented in accordance with the U.S. Constitution," Gov. Jan Brewer said in a news release. "I am confident our officers are prepared to carry out this law responsibly and lawfully. Nothing less is acceptable."

Brewer warned that this would not be the last lawsuit brought against the state concerning the law. She predicted that a number of organizations that fight for immigrant's rights would file lawsuits charging that the law was being abused.

Even former Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano, now the secretary of Homeland Security, weighed in on the opinion.

"I am pleased that the U.S. Supreme Court confirmed that state laws cannot dictate the federal government's immigration enforcement policies or priorities. (The Department of Homeland Security) remains focused on enhancing public safety and the integrity of our border by prioritizing enforcement resources on those who are in the country unlawfully and committing crimes, those who have repeatedly violated our immigration laws, and those who recently crossed our borders illegally," she said. "The court's decision not to strike down Section Two (the part requiring officers to check the immigration status of people they are investigating) at this time will make DHS' work more challenging," Napolitano said.

Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne told KTVK, channel 3 in Phoenix, "We won the big one."

He called the other provisions of the law struck down by the court "minor."

Two main supporters of the law - Andy Tobin, the speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives, and Arizona Senate President Steve Pierce - had similar takes on the ruling.

"SB 1070 would not have been necessary had the administration been willing to support Arizona with appropriate enforcement strategies," Tobin said in a statement released Monday.

Pierce said the court's decision "upheld what Arizonans have known all along; Arizona is not precluded from taking action herself to help secure our southern border."

"It is an election year, but I hold out hope that the Obama Administration can finally move past the rhetoric and work toward a solution to this and other very important problems that impact not only Arizona, but the nation as well," he said.

Arizona Sen. Ron Gould, who is running for the U.S. House of Representatives, had mixed feelings about the ruling.

"As one of the State Senate's main supporters of SB 1070, I am pleased that the Supreme Court upheld the most important provision - Section 2b - which allows our state's law enforcement to inquire about immigration status when they have reasonable cause to do so," he said in a news release. "I am disappointed the Supreme Court chose to strike down other provisions of SB 1070. I believe today's decision validates the policy of state-based enforcement of immigration laws and doing what the federal government won't do - which is to enforce immigration law."

Arizona Democratic Party Executive Director Luis Heredia had a different take on the decision.

"The Supreme Court of the United States has ruled section 2B of SB 1070 to be constitutional. That does not make it just or moral. Other parts were ruled unconstitutional as further evidence why this law is flawed," he said in a news release.

Heredia said the law does nothing to protect or strengthen Arizona and has damaged the state's economy and credibility. He claimed that the state lost approximately $23 million in tax revenue and $350 million in direct spending when a number of organizations cancelled their plans to hold conventions in the state.

U.S. Sens. Jon Kyl and John McCain said in a joint statement that they were continuing to review the court's decision and would continue their efforts to secure the southern border.

"We believe Arizonans are better served when state and federal officials work as partners to protect our citizens rather than as litigants in a courtroom," they said.