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April 25, 2012

Oral Arguments In Supreme Court Over Arizona Immigration Law

The WSJ is liveblogging the arguments.

Overall, the liveblogger says the Supreme Court "seems sympathetic to part of the Arizona Law. "

What is less clear is the fate of two sections of the Arizona law that create new state-law crimes based on violations of federal immigration law. Justices across the ideological spectrum at times asked skeptical questions of those latter provisions.

From the tenor of the oral argument, it’s possible a ruling in the case may not fall strictly along ideological lines. Some of the court’s liberal justices, though expressing concerns about the Arizona law, wondered whether the state could be prohibited from checking the immigration status of individuals within its borders.

One of those provisions is making it a state-level crime for an illegal alien to seek employment in state. Chief Justice Roberts seemed skeptical about this provision. Sorry, I don't see what the other one is.

This exchange seems important. (Reformatted in first-to-last top-to-bottom format; timestamps and signatures stripped out.)

As earlier in the day, the justices remained fixed on Section 2(B), which requires Arizona police to check immigration status of people they stop when they reasonably suspect they may be present unlawfully.

All that section does is require state officers to notify the federal government that they picked up an illegal immigrant, Chief Justice Roberts said. It’s totally up to the federal government to decide whether to take any action against that person. He couldn’t understand how that interferes with federal discretion over immigration enforcement.

Take those off the table, the chief justice said. “What could possibly be wrong” with having an Arizona cop call the feds to check immigration status?

...

Mr. Verrilli said, it created an accountability problem. State employees were enforcing federal laws, but were not accountable to federal officials.

[Also] he said, the huge number of inquiries would overwhelm federal resources

But federal law already requires the government to respond to immigration inquires from state officials. No member of the court seemed to accept Mr. Verrilli’s insistence that ad hoc inquiries from state cops were okay, but a statewide policy to do so systematically somehow undermined the federal immigration scheme.

You can see its not selling very well,” Justice Sotomayor told Mr. Verrilli. “I’m terribly confused by your answer.

Seems to me, said Chief Justice Roberts, the federal government doesn’t want to know who’s here illegally or not.

Pew Survey: Illegal Aliens are Self-Deporting. Net immigration from Mexico is zero, or maybe less, a survey finds.

From Kaus, with more. He observes that the previous CW claim (actually the liberal talking point, but I'll go with him and just call it "CW") was that illegals will never, ever leave, so we have to "just deal with it" through amnesty.

Now the CW shifts to "the illegals are leaving on their own anyway, so let's get rid of all the laws and enforcement that have helped impel them to leave."


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