U.S. Supreme Court Reviews Arizona Immigration Law

Posted April 25th, 2012 at 12:45 pm (UTC-5)
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The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments Wednesday on a controversial immigration law in Arizona that supporters say is necessary but opponents say unfairly targets all immigrants.

The legislation requires non-citizens to carry their identity papers at all times and makes it a state criminal offense for an illegal immigrant to seek work.

Eight Supreme Court justices are considering whether the law, signed by Arizona Republican Governor Jan Brewer in 2010, encroaches on federal powers regulating immigration. The ninth Justice, Elena Kagan, has recused herself from the case.

Reports from inside the courtroom say several justices expressed support for Arizona's effort to crack down on illegal immigration. They include Justice Anthony Kennedy, who often casts the deciding vote in such decisions .

Supporters of the law say tough local action is urgently needed in the border state, charging that the federal government has not done enough to stem the flow of illegal immigrants. Critics say the law encourages racial profiling.

The Obama administration says immigration enforcement is the job of the federal government and needs to be addressed at that level. The hotly-debated issue is expected to receive significant attention ahead of the November presidential election. The Supreme Court is expected to make its decision before the end of June.

A federal court has blocked parts of the law, including a measure that allows police to check the immigration status of a person during stops or arrests on other matters.

Democratic Senator Charles Schumer has said if the high court upholds the Arizona statute, he will introduce legislation to reiterate that Congress does not intend for states to enact their own immigration enforcement laws.

Congressional Republicans are expected to introduce new immigration reform plans.