States move cautiously on immigration after Supreme Court ruling
Five states in addition to Arizona - Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, Indiana and Utah - will be directly impacted by the ruling, but the road ahead is not entirely clear.
For the states that have the same provisions as Arizona, the Court's decision provides clarity.
"To the extent that they have identical provisions, it's open and shut," staff attorney Ben Winograd with the American Immigration Council said.
According to the National Council of State Legislatures, Alabama and South Carolina had made it a crime to not carry immigration papers and for undocumented immigrants to solicit or perform work. Because the Court struck those provisions down, the states will have to comply.
Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and Utah are among the states with a "show me your papers" measure, which allows law enforcement officials to ask a person's immigration status if there is a reasonable suspicion that the person might be in the country illegally. The Supreme Court upheld that component of the law for now, but it left open the possibility of it being struck down in the future, which is causing uncertainty in these states.
As for the states with variations of Arizona's immigration law, including Alabama -- which requires public school students to provide documentation -- separate court cases have been on hold pending the Supreme Court decision. Now that the Supreme Court has spoken, lower court cases are expected to resume.
Winograd says that the additional court cases will provide much more clarity.
"Based on the Supreme Court decision alone, I would be surprised" if the states move forward with their laws in the short term, Winograd said.
Statements by governors and attorneys general suggest that prediction is correct.
Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange: "My office will be reviewing today's decision to determine the full extent of its impact on Alabama's law and the pending litigation."
South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson: "The most important element of South Carolina's law, the ability of law enforcement to verify a suspected illegal alien's status upon an 'authorized lawful detention,' was found to be Constitutional on its face." (The Herald newspaper reported that the attorney general will file a legal brief asking a federal appeals court to allow South Carolina to implement the "show me your papers" provision.) Meanwhile, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley said, "Today's court ruling is in part good news for South Carolina law enforcement. Now, they can do their job and verify that those suspected of being here illegally are actually here legally."
Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens said he is looking for direction from the courts. "I look forward to further proceedings in the Eleventh Circuit regarding Georgia's immigration reform law in the light of this decision," he said in a statement
Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller says he is looking at Indiana's law and comparing it with the Court's decision. WIBC FM reported that he will ask the General Assembly to modify the law if necessary.
Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff said in the Salt Lake City Tribune that he believes the "ruling is primarily a win for the state of Utah and our HB497," adding that "there were a couple of provisions struck down in the Arizona law that are not in our law. I think our legislators were very wise to take a look at the problems [of SB1070]."
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