On April 25, 2012, though the fate of Arizona’s controversial immigration law, SB 1070, will be decided by the Supreme Court not by public nor media opinion, media responses and public opinion poll results quickly emerged as either for or against the law. The results of a Rasmussen Reports poll showed that on an issue at the heart of the Arizona law, 58% favor immigration checks during all traffic stops. A decision from the court is expected in June.
The Washington Post’s online site, a publication that once referred to the law as “Arizona’s act of vengeance,” sought a remedy to thwart an Arizona win if SB 1070 survived the Supreme Court. The article suggested that an immediate solution would be for Congress and the Obama White House to “Pass legislation that explicitly rejects state interference on the immigration front.”
The New York Times focused on the government’s use of the verb, “interpose”. The choice was apt, according to the article, because it allowed the Obama administration to rightfully construct their argument against what they consider to be an attempt by the state of Arizona to trespass on federal powers around the historical term, “interposition”. The word hearkens back to the days of the Civil War. The Times article was unapologetic in their support for federal rights to trump state rights. The New York Times concluded, “It is imperative that there be a single, national approach to immigration, as the government’s brief explains, and that any state law fulfills America’s hard-won commitment to racial equality. Arizona’s anti-immigrant statute emphatically does not.” (The NYT published an interactive graphic of all of the states who have passed anti-illegal immigration laws including the current status of each law. )
CNN’s Tamar Jacoby, a fellow at the New America Foundation and president of Immigration Works, USA, acknowledged she is pulling for the court to strike down SB 1070. If not, she expressed hopes the final Supreme Court ruling will allow all states the opportunity to experiment on immigration policy. Jacoby stated that it was “no wonder” the Supreme Court agreed to hear this controversial case, because, “Refereeing turf battles between Washington and the states is one of the court’s first responsibilities.”
Over on Huffpo Latino Voices, Kristian Ramos, Policy Director of Hispanic Demographics, chose to play the “devil’s advocate” supposing that the Arizona bill was upheld. He opined that the patchwork of state-passed immigration laws which would surely follow would do “nothing to fix the utterly broken process of legal immigration into the country,” because the states did not have the legal or financial wherewithal to deport illegal immigrants. Therefore, the only solution, was for Congress to pass comprehensive immigration laws.
Politico projected that a loss in the Supreme Court for President Obama’s team would be a win in Election 2012 for the president’s reelection efforts. Lifting the injunction on the Arizona law, would be “another reason for Latino voters to vote Democratic,” according to Gary Segura, a professor of political science at Stanford University who specializes in Latino issues.
The Washington Times analysis covered what it described as, “a dim view” by the Supreme Court on the Obama’s administration’s notion that it can prevent the state of Arizona from enforcing state immigration laws. Their article focused on uncertainty from unexpected sources, quoting Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who at one point told the federal attorney, “I’m terribly confused by your answer.”
FOX News reported that the court appeared sympathetic to Arizona’s right for sovereignty in addressing a serious illegal immigration problem in their state. Specifically, FOX News stated that “justices appeared ready to allow a provision requiring police officers to check the immigration status of people they think are in the U.S.” That ability is a key provision of SB 1070. Such a ruling would be considered a win for Arizona. However there are four provisions in the law, and FOX failed to address Arizona’s chances so optimistically on the remaining provisions.
The four provisions of the SB 1070 law argued in Supreme Court were:
- Arizona’s law which allows local law enforcement to check the citizenship of anyone they arrest or detain
- Arizona’s law that makes it a misdemeanor to be in the country illegally and solicit work
- Arizona’s law which requires non-citizens to carry papers proving they are here legally
- Arizona’s law which allows authorities to arrest someone if they have probable cause to believe the person is an illegal immigrant and has committed a crime