Arizona Immigration Law

Arizona’s aggressive immigration law was recently challenged in the Supreme Court on the grounds that it may be unconstitutional. However, while multiple provisions were struck down, one still remains: “papers, please”.

Papers Please

“Papers, please”– Section 2(B) in SB 1070 — allows police to inquire about immigration status if there is any “reasonable suspicion” that the person in question is an illegal immigrant. Many believe that this provision will invite the police to employ racial profiling.

Questionable Constitutionality

Arizona’s immigration law was largely brought to trial because of its questionable unconstitutionality — the Supreme Court unsure if state laws were hindering the federal government’s right to maintain immigration laws. However, SB 1070 was upheld because the Justices were unable to decide whether the law was replacing or reinforcing federal immigration laws. Along with “papers, please”, police are also allowed to check an arrestee’s immigration status before release.

Constitutional Rights Attacked

There is much room for debate with the “papers, please” provision. Equal protection, free speech and due process are all issues that could strike the provision. While Arizona won Section 2B, the Supreme Court was successful in striking down three provisions that were unconstitutional. Two provisions deemed it a crime for illegal immigrants to reside and look for employment while in Arizona. The third provision allowed the police to arrest anyone whom they believe carried out a deportable offense.

There are several states, including Missouri, that have similar bills in the state Senate and House that are waiting passage. These laws strengthen the law enforcement’s ability to “racially profile” drivers on the road. However unless it is in the course of an offense, law enforcement cannot stop a person to check for the immigration papers.

See you in my next blog.

Nalini S Mahadevan, JD, MBA
Immigration Attorney
Lowenbaum Partnership, LLC
St. Louis, Missouri

Tara Mahadevan

Copyright 2012. All rights reserved.

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