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