The debate over Arizona’s Senate Bill 1070 had escalated over the past two years such that even some opponents had their doubts ahead of Monday’s long-awaited U.S. Supreme Court ruling.
“We never dreamed,” said Luis Vera, lead counsel for the League of United Latin American Citizens. “(We) had already written a statement how disappointed we were.”
But now, Vera said the high court’s ruling is a victory for Latinos and the nation’s immigrant community.
“What do you do, but cry? It’s hopeless,” said Vera. “When you win, you know there has to be some divine providence.”
Vera said among those in the 5-3 majority was Chief Justice John Roberts.
“He may be on the extreme right on some issues but when it came to human beings, he did the right thing,” Vera said.
However, San Antonio’s Lamar Smith, who chairs the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, said the ruling “essentially puts an end to immigration enforcement since the states can no longer step in and fill the void created by the Obama administration.”
Smith said striking down three of the law’s four major provisions “limits the ability of states to protect their citizens and communities from illegal immigrants.”
Yet George Rodriguez, former president of the San Antonio Tea Party, said he doesn’t see a problem.
Rodriguez, who now is president of the South Texas Political Alliance, said the law’s most important provision was left intact.
“If they justifiable cause to be stopped and if there’s any reasonable doubt they may be illegally in the United States, they’re going to be asked,” Rodriguez.
In doing so, the American Immigration Lawyers Association, said in a statement, the Supreme Court “stopped short of striking down the racial profiling provision which requires police to verify immigration status when stopping, arresting or detaining someone.
Vera said officers already ask for identification of anyone who they suspect has committed a crime.
“None of this reasonable suspicion. None of this because I want to. No, they would have had to be arrested for an actual crime,” Vera said.
Vera said only when suspects are booked into jail are they asked their legal status because it could affect whether they get bond or held for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Vera also said he expects further legal challenges as other states with similar laws try to circumvent the Supreme Court ruling, or over racial profiling concerns.
Yet, Rodriguez said, “It makes common sense. They cannot stop you because you look Hispanic. No, they can’t.”