US Supreme Court to Review Immigration Law

The United States Supreme Court on Wednesday will review a restrictive immigration law from the southwestern state of Arizona. The law requires police to check a person's immigration status during routine traffic stops or other actions. The Arizona statute has brought immigration laws to the forefront on a state and federal level.

Alhassanne Foungounou plays his guitar and sings of liberation on YouTube. Foungounou requested asylum in the United States when his Tuareg protest songs angered the Niger government. But Foungounou returned home to Niger after Arizona passed a tough immigration law and he was nearly arrested. We asked him about it on Skype.

"I like the United States a lot but the Arizona law is not good. The vender asked me for my ID [identification] and I gave her my work permit. Soon after that the police came. It was like I killed someone," said Foungounou.

Foungounou was in the U.S. legally, but he did what Arizona officials hope to accomplish with the law. Arizona shares a border with Mexico. Governor Jan Brewer said she wanted to make conditions so uncomfortable that illegal immigrants would voluntarily leave her state. The law requires legal immigrants to carry documentation with them at all times or be jailed. It also requires police to check a person's immigration status if the officer suspects the individual is in the country illegally.

The law was to end years of frustration over Arizona's estimated 460,000 illegal immigrants. After several court challenges, its future is up to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Michael McLaughlin said the law is refreshing and should be upheld. His wife is a German immigrant who followed the legal path to citizenship 42 years ago.

He and other volunteers are trying to get strict laws in all 50 states. They plan to demonstrate in front of the Supreme Court.

"We have about 8 million illegal aliens in the United States, 7 million of whom are working in non-agricultural jobs at the same time that we have 22 million Americans looking for full-time employment," said McLaughlin.

If the Supreme Court upholds the law, individual states could enact their own immigration rules. Kristina Campbell is a law professor at the University of the District of Columbia.

"They really are opening up a can of worms if you believe in the principle of federalism - that we are several states, but one nation. We have the same laws at the federal level. Then, I think turning around and saying, 'Well you guys can do whatever you want on this particular issue' is problematic."

Ali Noorani of the National Immigration Forum opposes the law, but he sees the benefit of getting the nation to address immigration.

"You know what? We've got to get our act together. We've got to figure this out. Whether it is Arizona or Alabama, the country is losing because we have a dysfunctional immigration system," said Noorani.

The justices are expected to have a decision in June.

Carolyn Presutti

Carolyn Presutti is an Emmy and Silver World Medal award winning television correspondent who works out of VOA’s Washington headquarters.   She has also won numerous Associated Press awards and a Clarion for her coverage of The Syrian Medical Crisis, Haiti, The Boston Marathon Bombing, Presidential Politics, The Southern Economy, and The 9/11 Bombing Anniversary.  In 2013, Carolyn aired exclusive stories on the Asiana plane crash and was named VOA’s chief reporter with Google Glass.

You can follow Carolyn on Twitter at CarolynVOA, on Google Plus and Facebook.
This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdrawsi
Jim Malone
October 09, 2015 12:32 AM
The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

VOA Blogs