Arizona immigrants group not surprised by ruling

By Jacques Billeaud

Associated Press

Published: Monday, June 25 2012 9:33 a.m. MDT

PHOENIX — Arizona immigrant rights advocates said the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling striking down parts of the state's immigration law was not a surprise and added that they will ask officers how they will enforce the "show me your papers" provision that survived.

The court's decision on Monday upheld the part of the law that allows officers to check the status of someone suspected of being in the U.S. illegally. But it takes the teeth out of it by prohibiting police officers from arresting people on minor immigration charges.

Even there, the justices said, the provision could be subject to additional legal challenges.

Puente Arizona director Carlos Garcia said his organization expected the high court to uphold that part of the law. He said Puente will begin reaching out to police departments.

Garcia said President Barack Obama can put an end to this by having federal immigration officers cease working with local police.

Justice Anthony 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.

They were the sections that required all immigrants to obtain or carry immigration registration papers, making it a state criminal offense for an illegal immigrant to seek work or hold a job and allowing police to arrest suspected illegal immigrants without warrants.

The Obama administration sued to block the Arizona law soon after its enactment two years ago. Federal courts had refused to let the four key provisions take effect.

Arizona has spent almost $3 million defending the law for the last two years, the Arizona Republic reported Monday.

Five states — Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, South Carolina and Utah — have adopted variations on Arizona's law. Parts of those laws also are on hold pending the outcome of the Supreme Court case.

Associated Press writer Mark Sherman in Washington contributed to this report.

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