Arizona immigration decision could impact Alabama law

Published 4:52 pm Monday, June 25, 2012

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday on Arizona’s controversial immigration law, delivering a split decision that will likely have an impact in Alabama.

The court blocked the majority of the law, but upheld what Gov. Robert Bentley called “the core of Arizona’s anti-illegal immigration law.”

The section of the law upheld in Monday’s ruling deals with the directive that law enforcement officers must check the immigration status of suspects during an arrest, traffic stop or other interaction.

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Bentley said he will examine what the Supreme Court’s decision will mean in relation to Alabama’s pending immigration law.

“While Alabama’s anti-illegal immigration law has similar provisions as Arizona’s law, the laws are not identical,” Bentley said. “We will analyze the Supreme Court opinion to see what potential effect it might have on the provisions of Alabama’s law.”

Bentley went on to explain that laws such as those in Arizona, Alabama and Georgia have been created by state lawmakers due to the federal government’s ineffectiveness in the area of illegal immigration.

“State laws on immigration are required because the federal government has refused to enforce its own immigration policies,” Bentley said. “The bottom line to Alabama’s law is this: if you live and work in the state, you must do so legally. The people of Alabama want a strong immigration law, and I will keep my commitment to uphold and enforce Alabama’s anti-illegal immigration law.”

A major part of Arizona’s law rejected in Monday’s ruling contained a clause that would have required immigrants to carry paper work on their person validating the legality of their presence in the U.S.

The argument made by Arizona, as well as Alabama, that state laws created to deal with federal immigration do not conflict with federal laws was rejected by the court.

The upholding of a portion of the law, however, demonstrates that the federal government does acknowledge the role of state government in the immigration battle, Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange said following Monday’s decision.

“Today the Supreme Court acknowledged that state law enforcement can play an important role in assisting the federal government in fulfilling its responsibility to enforce the immigration laws of this country,” Strange said. “The Court, in this landmark decision, provides guidance on the validity of Arizona’s immigration law, which will impact Alabama’s immigration law along with those of several other states.”

Strange said his office will also be analyzing what implications

Monday’s ruling may have on Alabama’s law, but pointed to the decision as an overall step in the right direction.

“Illegal immigration is a serious issue facing states across our nation, and it has been addressed by state legislatures in various ways,” Strange said. “Hopefully today’s decision will spur the federal government to enforce the rule of law in the immigration arena. My office will be reviewing today’s decision to determine the full extent of its impact on Alabama’s law and the pending litigation.”