Explosive Immigration Issue to Hit Supreme Court

"Danger" the signs read: "Visitors May Encounter Armed Criminals and Smuggling Vehicles Traveling at High Rates of Speed." In a video Brewer made in 2010, she stands in front of one of the signs and says, "This is an outrage. Washington says our border is as safe as it has always been. Does this look safe to you?"

In Court papers, Clement says that Arizona shoulders a disproportionate burden of the national problem of illegal immigration.

"The public safety and economic strains that this places on Arizona and its residents have created an emergency situation, which demanded a response," Clement argues. He says that between 2000 and 2007 the number of illegal immigrations in Arizona increased by nearly 30,000 a year. "Arizona has repeatedly asked the federal government for more vigorous federal enforcement," says Clement "but to no avail," adding that S.B. 1070 was meant to respect Congress' policy determinations while enhancing the State's contribution to enforcement.

But the Government argues that the Constitution gives the federal government authority over immigration control.

"As the Framers understood, it the National Government that has ultimate responsibility to regulate the treatment of aliens while on American soil, because it is the nation as a whole -- not any single state -- that must respond to the international consequences of such treatment," writes Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr. in court papers.

He argues that while the federal government welcomes the assistance of state officers, Arizona is trying to adopt its own immigration policy while paying no heed to the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), the principal federal immigration statute that establishes a scheme for the regulation of immigration. The law takes into consideration humanitarian conditions, foreign-policy considerations and other issues when deciding whether someone should be deported.

"Arizona has adopted its own immigration policy, which focuses solely on maximum enforcement and pays no heed to the multifaceted judgments that the INA provides for the Executive Branch to make." Verrilli says. "For each state, and each locality, to set its own immigration policy in that fashion would wholly subvert Congress's goal: a single, national approach."

Ira Mehlman, spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, a group that supports S.B. 1070, says the law does not interfere with federal law, but mirrors it.

"We believe the Supreme Court should uphold these provisions, acknowledge and state clearly that states do have a legitimate interest in immigration enforcement," he says, while pointing out states are the ones who must provide benefits like education and health care and they have a legitimate reason to pass laws like S.B. 1070.

Five other states, Utah, South Carolina, Alabama, Indiana and Georgia have passed similar laws.

Immigrants' rights advocates, working with Jim Shee, say the laws amount to racial profiling. They say that even while the "show me your papers" provision was blocked by the courts, it has emboldened officers to find excuses to make stops.

"If allowed to go into effect, SB 1070 will force untold numbers of Latinos, Asians, and others who might appear or sound 'foreign" 'to produce 'papers' upon demand, even if they have been born in this country. This is contrary to our most cherished principles of fairness and equality: our laws should protect all people from discrimination, regardless of what they look like or how they sound, " says Marielena Hincapie, Executive Director for the National Immigration Law Center.

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