High court rejects part of Arizona immigration law

Updated:

WASHINGTON —

The Supreme Court has struck down key provisions of Arizona's crackdown on immigrants.

But the court said Monday that one much-debated part of the law could go forward — the portion requiring police to check the status of someone they suspect is not in the United States legally. Even there, though, the justices said the provision could be subject to additional legal challenges.

The decision upholds the "show me your papers" provision for the moment. But it takes the teeth out of it by prohibiting police officers from arresting people on minor immigration charges.

Justice Kennedy wrote the opinion for the court that was unanimous on allowing the status check to go forward. The court was divided on striking down the other portions.

Five states, including Georgia, have adopted variations on Arizona’s law. Parts of those laws also are on hold pending the outcome of the Supreme Court case.

Georgia’s law requires businesses with more than 500 employees to use E-Verify, a federal database, to check a prospective hire's legal status to work in the United States. It also gives police authority to check the legal status of certain suspects. The law went into effect in July.

In light of the Supreme Court ruling, state Attorney Sam Olens said, “I am pleased that the Supreme Court recognizes that states have an important role to play in upholding the law.  I look forward to further proceedings in the Eleventh Circuit regarding Georgia’s immigration reform law in the light of this decision.”

Gov. Nathan Deal echoed similar sentiments saying, "We’ll have to wait to see how the ruling on the Arizona immigration law will affect our state’s enforcement reforms because Georgia’s law is not identical to Arizona’s. That said, it appears the court has upheld the major thrust of our state’s statute: That states have the right to assist in enforcing federal immigration law.”

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