President Obama hailed the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Arizona immigration enforcement case as a victory for his administration, which argued that the state law undermined federal immigration laws, but he “remain[s] concerned” that the court’s ruling will result in racial profiling.
“I am pleased that the Supreme Court has struck down key provisions of Arizona’s immigration law,” Obama said in a statement this afternoon. “What this decision makes unmistakably clear is that Congress must act on comprehensive immigration reform. A patchwork of state laws is not a solution to our broken immigration system – it’s part of the problem.”
The high court invalidated three of the four main provisions in the law: “making it a crime under state law for immigrants to fail to register under a federal law, making it a crime for illegal immigrants to work or to try find work, and allowing the police to arrest people without warrants if they have probable cause to believe that they have done things that would make them deportable under federal law,” the New York Times explained.
Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in a 5-4 majority opinion that “Arizona may have understandable frustrations with the problems caused by illegal immigration while that process continues, but the state may not pursue policies that undermine federal law.”
The justices allowed Arizona to implement its policy of checking the immigration status of people detained by law enforcement.
Obama criticized that decision. “I remain concerned about the practical impact of the remaining provision of the Arizona law that requires local law enforcement officials to check the immigration status of anyone they even suspect to be here illegally,” he said in the statement. “Going forward, we must ensure that Arizona law enforcement officials do not enforce this law in a manner that undermines the civil rights of Americans, as the Court’s decision recognizes.”
He added that “what makes us American is not a question of what we look like or what our names are,” — an observation that echoes his campaign talking point that “generally people named Barack Hussein Obama are not sure things in presidential races,” as he said during a campaign fundraiser on June 6th.
The president noted that the ruling does not affect his decision to implement the DREAM Act by refusing to enforce illegal immigration laws on young people who would qualify as DREAMers if the law had passed through Congress.
“[W]e will continue to enforce our immigration laws by focusing on our most important priorities like border security and criminals who endanger our communities, and not, for example, students who earn their education – which is why the Department of Homeland Security announced earlier this month that it will lift the shadow of deportation from young people who were brought to the United States as children through no fault of their own,” he said.