Union leaders have mixed view of Supreme Court ruling on immigration law
26 June 2012
|WASHINGTON - Union leaders had mixed reactions to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision Monday to toss out most of Arizona’s immigration law.
|On the one hand, they welcomed the court’s assertion that most of Arizona’s law was unconstitutional. But they criticized the justices for leaving intact a key section – the one that lets police officers demand peoples’ papers when questioning them about other violations. The union leaders say that will still lead to racial profiling.
By a 5-3 majority, the justices left in place only that traffic stop section, where state and local police could ask drivers whom they stop for other reasons to then produce proof of legal residence in the U.S. If the driver can’t, the officer could then check status with federal agencies. But the police can’t automatically arrest the driver, the justices added.
Typical comments came from Service Employees Secretary-Treasurer Eliseo Medina. He said the justices left racial profiling in place – and that the answer for unionists and Latinos must be at the ballot box this fall, electing enough pro-worker officials to overturn the Court’s ruling.
“Today is not a good day for justice in America. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the most egregious section of this discriminatory law,” he said.
“The court upheld a portion of the law that cracks the core of our principles -– justice and equality, the very foundation America’s immigrant ancestors sought. The Arizona law, in effect, legitimizes racial profiling.
“The court may have decided, but we the people will have the final say,” Medina vowed. “This makes clear that our campaign to mobilize Latino voters and communities of color to organize and grow our electoral power is an absolute necessity.”
Javier Morillo, president of SEIU Local 26 in the Twin Cities, concurred.
“The Supreme Court’s decision to invalidate most portions of Arizona’s SB1070 is an important victory for fair-minded Americans. Although the most odious part of the law, the "show me your papers" provision, was not enjoined, we take heart in the reaffirmation by the Court that we cannot have a patchwork system of 50 different state immigration laws,” Morillo said. “To any politician who supports laws like SB1070, we say this: We will remain vigilant, we will be in the streets protesting and we will be at the ballot box voting. SEIU members in Minnesota, and across the country, share a deep-seated commitment to defeating any legislator willing to put anti-immigrant, draconian laws on the books – today’s ruling is a reminder of why that commitment is important.”
Even the Arizona law’s traffic stop section could be challenged by a driver who is stopped in the future, said Justice Anthony Kennedy in the court’s majority opinion. The traffic stop section, like the rest of Arizona’s infamous SB1070, has been delayed by lower court rulings against it.
And the majority upheld those rulings, including one that overturns the Arizona law’s ban on undocumented workers taking jobs, as infringements on the federal government’s supremacy of power in the overall immigration field. The practical impact of its decision was to toss the rest of Arizona’s law as violating the U.S. Constitution.
“The supremacy clause gives Congress the power to preempt state law. A statute may contain an express preemption provision, but state law must also give way to federal law in at least two other circumstances,” Kennedy wrote.
“First, states are precluded from regulating conduct in a field Congress determined must be regulated by its exclusive governance. Intent can be inferred from a framework of regulation ‘so pervasive...that Congress left no room for the states to supplement it’ or where a “federal interest is so dominant that the federal system will be assumed to preclude enforcement of state laws on the same subject,’” his ruling says.
“Second, state laws are preempted when they conflict with federal law, including when they stand ‘as an obstacle to the accomplishment and execution of the full purposes and objectives of Congress.’”
In passing, early in their decision, the court majority also approved giving U.S. immigration officials “broad discretion” about which unauthorized residents to deport.
Democratic President Barack Obama, whose administration argued against the whole Arizona law, exercised that discretion just the week before, in announcing that youths under the age 30, brought to the U.S. as children by their parents and who are in college or the military, would not be deported.
This article was written by Press Associates, Inc., news service. Used by permission.