Supreme Court upholds key part of Arizona for now; strikes down other provisions
Statement by the President on the Supreme Court’s Ruling on Arizona v. the United States
I am pleased that the Supreme Court has struck down key provisions of Arizona’s immigration law. What this decision makes unmistakably clear is that Congress must act on comprehensive immigration reform. A patchwork of state laws is not a solution to our broken immigration system – it’s part of the problem.
At the same time, I remain concerned about the practical impact of the remaining provision of the Arizona law that requires local law enforcement officials to check the immigration status of anyone they even suspect to be here illegally. I agree with the Court that individuals cannot be detained solely to verify their immigration status. No American should ever live under a cloud of suspicion just because of what they look like. Going forward, we must ensure that Arizona law enforcement officials do not enforce this law in a manner that undermines the civil rights of Americans, as the Court’s decision recognizes. Furthermore, we will continue to enforce our immigration laws by focusing on our most important priorities like border security and criminals who endanger our communities, and not, for example, students who earn their education – which is why the Department of Homeland Security announced earlier this month that it will lift the shadow of deportation from young people who were brought to the United States as children through no fault of their own.
I will work with anyone in Congress who’s willing to make progress on comprehensive immigration reform that addresses our economic needs and security needs, and upholds our tradition as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants. And in the meantime, we will continue to use every federal resource to protect the safety and civil rights of all Americans, and treat all our people with dignity and respect. We can solve these challenges not in spite of our most cherished values – but because of them. What makes us American is not a question of what we look like or what our names are. What makes us American is our shared belief in the enduring promise of this country – and our shared responsibility to leave it more generous and more hopeful than we found it.
Mitt Romney released a statement earlier today emphasizing the right of states to enact immigration policies, but not actually commenting directly on the substance of today’s Supreme Court decision on the Arizona immigration law. Reporters sought to get more clarity from the campaign in a Q&A with traveling spokesman Rick Gorka, but to little avail. POLITICO’s Ginger Gibson sends a transcript of the lengthy exchange [NOTE: this is a rush transcript, some of the questions are slightly condensed, answers are verbatim]:
GORKA: The governor supports the states’ rights to craft immigration laws when the federal government has failed to do so. This president promised as a candidate to address immigration in his first year and hasn’t, and waited actually ‘til four and a half months before the election to put in place a stopgap measure.
QUESTION: So does he think it’s wrongly decided?
GORKA: The governor supports the states’ rights to do this. It’s a 10th amendment issue.
QUESTION: So he thinks it’s constitutional?
GORKA: The governor believes the states have the rights to craft their own immigration laws, especially when the federal government has failed to do so.
QUESTION: And what does he think about parts invalidated?
GORKA: What Arizona has done and other states have done is a direct result of the failure of this president to address illegal immigration. It’s within their rights to craft those laws and this debate, and the Supreme Court ruling is a direct response of the president failing to address this issue
QUESTION: Does (Romney) support the law as it was drafted in Arizona?
GORKA: The governor supports the right of states, that’s all we’re going to say on this issue.
QUESTION: Does he have a position on the law, or no position?
GORKA: The governor has his own immigration policy that he laid out in Orlando and in the primary, which he would implement as president which would address this issue. Whereas Obama has had four years in the office and has yet to address it in a meaningful way.
QUESTION: But does the Governor have a position on the Arizona law besides supporting the right of states?
GORKA: This debate is sprung from the president failing to address this issue, so each state is left and has the power to draft and enact their own immigration policy.
QUESTION: But the Arizona law does very specific things, does the governor support those things that the Arizona law does?
GORKA: We’ve addressed this.
QUESTION: What is his position on the actual law in Arizona?
GORKA: Again, each state has the right within the Constitution to craft their own immigration laws since the federal government has failed.
QUESTION: But does he think about the law in Arizona? You’re just talking about the states right to have a law but you’re not giving any position on the actual law.
GORKA: Ultimately this debate comes back down to the federal government and the president failing to address this. If the president followed through on his campaign promise to address illegal immigration in the first year, this debate wouldn¹t be necessary.
QUESTION: Is it fair to say that he has no opinion on the Arizona law?
GORKA: Look, again, I¹ll say it again and again and again for you. The governor understands that states have their own right to craft policies to secure their own borders and to address illegal immigration.
QUESTION: You’re not answering – what does he think about the policy in Arizona? Is it fair to say he has no opinion? You’re refusing to give us an answer.
GORKA: Arizona, like many other states in this nation, take it upon themselves to craft policies for their own specific states. Governor has said repeatedly that states are a laboratory of democracy, what one state crafts may not work in others but ultimately this, again, goes back to the president failing to deliver on his campaign promises. As candidate Obama, he said he would address immigration in the first year and hasn’t and instead put in a stopgap measure four and a half months before the election.
QUESTION: The statement that Mitt Romney released this morning doesn’t say one way or another whether he agrees with the Supreme Court decision. Does he have a reaction as to whether he agrees with this decision?
GORKA: Again, Jim. The states have the right to craft their immigration policy when the federal government has failed to do so.
QUESTION: But the Supreme Court just said three out of four of those, the states didn’t have the right to do that, so how does that square with the governor’s statement?
GORKA: States have the right to craft their own immigration policies….and those [inaudible] went through the process.
QUESTION: But we don’t have a statement one way or the other whether he agrees with this decision today by the Supreme Court-the statement itself doesn’t say.
GORKA: This country would be better served if the president wasn’t suing states but the president was actually fulfilling his campaign promises to enact an immigration policy.
QUESTION: So if your statement stands as you expressed it then, you want to remain silent as to whether or not Romney accepts today’s decision.
GORKA: Arizona has the ability under the 10th amendment to address an issue that the federal government—
QUESTION: But that wasn’t part of – the judges were not ruling whether or not the 10th amendment exists today. They were ruling on an Arizona statute. And you’re saying that his support for the 10th Amendment is effectively silent on today’s discussion, are you not?
GORKA: The bottom line, Carl, is that if the president followed through on his campaign promise and addressed this issue, we’d be better off. The governor’s put forward his own proposal.
QUESTION: But it’s safe to say he sides with the state of Arizona in this case before the court today.
GORKA: I think states have a tough job. The federal government has failed to secure the borders and to enact policy on this issue, and the states are left to protect their own borders and to work within their own system and to come up with a policy that works for them.
QUESTION: Can states do anything, even if it defies the Constitution?
GORKA: That’s not what I was saying.
QUESTION: But tell me where the distinction is.
GORKA: The bottom line, the fundamental problem of this debate is that the president has failed to enact a policy, has failed to address this, has failed to live up to his campaign promise again and again and again. This stems from states having to deal with an issue like illegal immigration, and come up with a policy that actually works for them.
QUESTION: Can you — (overtalk)
GORKA: We have to get going. I’m more than happy to talk about– I’m with you guys all afternoon at the hotel. We can–
QUESTION: Why isn’t the governor up here talking about this. He’s not addressed any of this.
GORKA: The governor has issued a statement and if there is ah (Overtalk: The statement doesn’t explain…) GORKA: It’s still a long day. And there’s still an opportunity.
Here’s Governor Jan Brewer’s statement
That’s what you call hedging your bets, or in Romney’s case, ensuring defeat!
SMGDH Romney is being defined by everyone, even his Pupett Masters.
Thanks for posting this clip, Ametia. Romney has painted himself into a corner on immigration and has decided to take the coward’s way out by being too chicken to say whether he agrees or disagrees with the SC’s decision on 1070. I find it highly ironic that he accuses the president of failing to lead on immigration when he’s hiding out and refusing to say anything. Hiding out and saying nothing makes him look real bad. Even Rupert Murdock was tweeting about his cowardice on Twitter today.
Four Takeaways From Today’s Arizona Immigration Decision
By Ian Millhiser on Jun 25, 2012 at 11:53 am
This morning, the Supreme Court handed down a 5-3 decision striking down three key provisions of Arizona’s SB 1070 law, and effectively limiting the scope of the law’s “show me your papers” provision requiring law enforcement officers to determine the immigration status of anyone they have “reasonable suspicion” to believe is in the country illegally. Here are four key takeaways from this decision:
1. Arizona Does Not Get To Have Its Own Immigration Policy: For decades the backbone of American immigration law has been an understanding that the United States has one immigration policy set by our national government, not fifty different immigration policies set by fifty different states. Today’s decision leaves this basic framework in place. In the words of Justice Kennedy’s majority opinion, “[i]t is fundamental that foreign countries concerned about the status, safety, and security of their nationals in the United States must be able to confer and communicate on this subject with one national sovereign, not the 50 separate States.”
2. Arizona Cannot Create New Crimes Targeting Immigrants: SB 1070 criminalizes “willful failure to complete or carry an alien registration document,” it makes it a crime for undocumented immigrants to work or seek work, and it authorizes police to arrest anyone the officer has “probably cause to believe” can be deported. All of these provisions were struck down by the Court. Notably, Justice Kennedy’s opinion acknowledged how forcing immigrants into the shadows can lead to their exploitation: “making criminals out of aliens engaged in unauthorized work—aliens who already face the possibility of employer exploitation because of their removable status—would be inconsistent with federal policy and objectives.”
3. Arizona Cannot Detain People Simply Because They Might Be Undocumented: Although the opinion does not strike down the “show me your papers” provision, it significantly lessens the harm caused by this provision. SB 1070 provides that “[a]ny person who is arrested shall have the person’s immigration status determined before the person is released,” but the Court warns the state not to apply this provision literally if it wants to avoid running headlong into the Constitution:
they asked him 20 fucking times
20 FUCKING TIMES for a position
and he still didn’t give one.
Back in November, there was a fascinating exchange between Romney campaign spokesperson Eric Fehrnstrom and Washington Examiner reporter Philip Klein about immigration. Asked what the candidate would do with the millions of undocumented immigrants who are already here, Fehrnstrom said, “He doesn’t believe in granting them amnesty.”
When Klein pressed further — acknowledging what Romney doesn’t believe in, but then asking what he does believe in — Fehrnstrom practically lost the ability to communicate in English.
Today, it happened all over again.
Mitt Romney released a statement earlier today emphasizing the right of states to enact immigration policies, but not actually commenting directly on the substance of today’s Supreme Court decision on the Arizona immigration law. Reporters sought to get more clarity from the campaign in a Q&A with traveling spokesman Rick Gorka, but to little avail.
The transcript is too long to republish here, but it’s a rather extraordinary read. Gorka, speaking on Romney’s behalf, heard reporters ask whether the candidate agrees or disagrees with the Supreme Court’s ruling, but went to extraordinary lengths to repeat superficial talking points, avoiding every question.
By one count, Romney’s overwhelmed spokesperson was asked literally 20 times what the candidate thought about today’s ruling, and literally 20 times, the spokesperson refused to say. Even Byron York called the evasion “excruciating,” which is as good an adjective as any.
Remember, all of this follows a press release this afternoon, in which Romney spent 104 words talking about the Supreme Court ruling without taking a position on it.
Cowardice is an unappealing character trait in a presidential campaign, but it’s becoming increasingly obvious that Romney, to borrow George Will’s line, “lacks the courage of his absence of convictions.”