Taking the teeth out of SB 1070
Gov. Jan Brewer and the Arizona Legislature got a reality check (and a punch to the gut) this morning, courtesy of the Supreme Court.
This, even as Brewer was declaring victory.
"Today's decision by the U.S. Supreme Court," she proclaimed, "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."
It is a victory for the rule of law, all right. But Brewer's endzone dance seems strangely out of place and leaves me wondering: has the governor actually read the court's opinion?
The Supreme Court tossed out three of four provisions of Senate Bill 1070 and as for the fourth – the “papers please” provision – the court left it intact.
And largely irrelevant.
The court said that Arizona police officers can inquire about immigration status, if they have a reasonable concern that someone’s here illegally after having a reasonable excuse to stop them for something else.
OK, so they can ask. But it’s questionable how long they can wait for an answer. Your normal traffic stop takes, what, a half hour at most? Getting ICE to answer questions about someone’s immigration status generally takes a lot longer, hours at times.
The cops aren’t going to have hours to wait.
“Detaining individuals solely to verify their immigration status would raise constitutional concerns,” the court said.
Translation: this will be back before the courts quicker than you can say “we has did won”.
OK, so by some miracle it takes ICE only a few minutes to get back to the officer and lo and behold, the person sitting in front of him (or her) is an illegal immigrant.
But the police can’t arrest the person or detain him (or her) for being here illegally.
“It would disrupt the federal framework to put state officers in the position of holding aliens in custody for possible unlawful presence without federal direction and supervision,” the opinion says.
Given that the feds are looking to deport actual criminals, I’m guessing the guy stopped for jaywalking is going to go free.
In other words, SB 1070 lives. A portion of it is constitutional. It’s just on a liquid-only diet.
You know, no teeth?
All the more reason for Congress and the president (whoever that will be) to grow a backbone, act as statesmen, find common ground and fix this mess we can our immigration/border policy.
Yeah, I know, I'm a DREAMer -- one of different sort.