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Defenders of immigrants’ rights on the national level are preparing to respond immediately to the Supreme Court ruling on the future of Arizona’s harsh immigration law.
The high court will hear arguments on April 25 on the lawsuit filed by the federal government against law SB 1070, the first in the country to criminalize the presence of undocumented immigrants.
The court’s decision will be issued by the end of June.
Karen Tumlin, an attorney for the National Immigration Law Center, said Thursday that there are three possible scenarios: that the justices will uphold lower-court rulings blocking certain clauses in the law; that they will rule in favor of the state of Arizona; of that a split decision will result.
Tumlin participated on Thursday along with religious leaders, representatives of law enforcement and politicians in a telephone conference call in which they expressed their disagreement with SB 1070.
She said that if the Supreme Court maintains the restrictions on SB 1070, they will immediately ask the courts in other states where similar laws have been approved such as Utah, Indiana, Georgia, South Carolina and Alabama to do the same.
If there is a split decision, the activists will analyze the legal options before them.
Among the sections of SB 1070 that was suspended by order of U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton is one that would allow law enforcement agencies to question the immigration status of people “they suspect” of being undocumented.
But all the participants in Thursday’s call, including Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) and former Phoenix police chief Jack Harris, agreed that if the high court rules in favor of SB 1070 it will have serious consequences for the immigrant community in the United States.
Gutierrez, along with 68 other congressmen, on Wednesday presented a friend-of-the-court brief in which they expressed to Supreme Court their opposition to SB 1070.
“We believe that the way a person looks or the shoes they wear are not probable cause to be questioned or arrested,” he said Thursday, adding that such racial profiling can have “deadly consequences.”
Harris said that many police and sheriff’s departments oppose SB 1070 because amid serious budget cutbacks this type of legislation diverts resources to focus on people whose only “crime” is living and working illegally in the United States.
“These resources could be used to fight the cartels, drug trafficking, rapists,” he emphasized.
The participants in Thursday’s call concluded that the battle for immigration reform on the federal level must continue, although they acknowledged that the options for achieving it are minimal this year.