US Supreme Court to Tackle Illegal Immigration

Lawyer walks down steps of US Supreme Court in Washington D.C. (2011 file photo)
Lawyer walks down steps of US Supreme Court in Washington D.C. (2011 file photo)

The political and legal battle over how to deal with illegal immigration in the United States will be front and center before the Supreme Court on Wednesday.  The high court will consider whether an Arizona state law aimed at cracking down on illegal immigrants conflicts with the federal government’s role in policing national borders. 

SB 1070 requires police to check the immigration status of people they detain and who they suspect may be in the country illegally.  The law also makes it a crime for illegal immigrants to work in the state.

The Obama administration has blocked several key provisions of the Arizona law in lower federal courts, asserting the responsibility to police the national borders rests with the federal government and Congress, not with individual states.


Opponents of the law in Arizona also argue the statute has had a polarizing effect in the state.  

“I am a fourth generation Mexican-American from Arizona and I have never seen such division in our state," said Petra Falcon, a member of an activist group known as Promise Arizona, "and also the disbelief, anger and fear when SB 1070 [the bill] was signed [into law].”

Opponents also include leading Hispanic-American organizations like the National Council of La Raza.  Clarissa Martinez is director of immigration and national campaigns for the group.

“The United States is more than a country.  For many of us immigrants coming from other countries, it is an ideal and part of an aspiration," Martinez explained. "America has a proud immigration legacy, but it is not one without a tortured past.”

Supporters of the Arizona law say the state was forced to act because the federal government failed to secure the border during a period of several years, resulting in about 400,000 illegal immigrants now living in the state.

Nationwide, it is estimated 11-million illegal immigrants reside in the United States.


The Arizona law has many supporters around the country, including William Gheen in North Carolina, who heads a group called Americans for Legal Immigration Political Action Committee.

“Illegal immigration displaces and replaces American workers, students, people using health-care facilities," noted Gheen. "It results in the theft of hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars and some Americans lose their very lives because our borders go unenforced and our immigration laws go unenforced.”

Several other states have enacted laws similar to the one in Arizona and will be closely watching the Supreme Court case.

Gheen says a high court decision to uphold the law would give states more leeway in cracking down on illegal immigration.

“We stand ready now for the Supreme Court to hopefully rule that states can enforce the existing immigration laws of the country when the federal government fails to do so and we will move immediately to try to pass that law in as many states as possible as rapidly as possible,” Gheen said.


A Supreme Court ruling is expected by the end of June.  Whatever the court decides could have an impact on this year’s presidential and congressional elections.  How to deal with illegal immigration remains a major political issue and affects the ability of both Democratic and Republican candidates to appeal to Hispanic voters.

Hispanics are the largest growing bloc of voters and public opinion polls show they are overwhelmingly against the Arizona law.

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.
After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against ISi
November 24, 2015 3:04 AM
The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs