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ADL Says Supreme Court Decision on Harsh Arizona Immigration Law Leaves 'Troubling Provision' in Place

New York, NY, June 25, 2012 The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today called the Supreme Court's decision on Arizona's harsh immigration law a "mixed outcome, bearing both good and bad news and highlighting the need for comprehensive immigration reform."  The Court struck down some of the statute's most restrictive provisions while leaving one of the law's most troubling provisions in force.

In a 5-3 decision, the Justices struck down many of the provisions of the law -- known as SB1070 -- while letting stand a section that directs local law enforcement officers to check an individual's immigration status when they stop the person for violating the law and have a "reasonable suspicion" that the individual may be undocumented.  ADL argued against that provision in its amicus brief in the case, Arizona v. United States.

Robert G. Sugarman, ADL National Chair, and Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director issued the following statement:

The Supreme Court's decision on Arizona's harsh immigration law is a mixed outcome, bearing both good and bad news and highlighting the need for comprehensive and meaningful immigration reform.

The good news is the Court invalidated a number of key provisions of the Arizona law, sending a message to other states that they should exercise caution in attempting to legislate new restrictions on how undocumented immigrants are treated.  The bad news is one provision of the law, Section 2(B), was allowed to remain in place.  The Court expressed some skepticism about this provision, pointing out that delaying the release of detainees for no reason other than to verify their immigration status would raise constitutional concerns.  While the Justices made clear that this provision remains open to future legal challenges, it is unfortunately still on the books.

We are deeply troubled that Section 2(B) was not struck down.  One of our primary concerns has been that Arizona's law would exacerbate fear in immigrant communities and, in particular, make victims and witnesses of hate crimes reluctant to speak with police.  Even though the Arizona Attorney General has said that local police will not engage in racial profiling, giving local police the responsibility of checking immigration status will undermine the essential trust between residents and law enforcement, leave local police in an untenable position, and continue to create barriers to effective protection of minority communities.

We very much hope that the Court's decision on this highly controversial provision will not encourage other states to enact similar provisions.

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2012 Anti-Defamation League