This blog has reported a number of stories on federal challenges to state immigration laws. The federal challenges first erupted after Arizona passed immigration laws that, among other things, require immigrants to obtain or carry immigration papers and allow police in that state to arrest an undocumented immigrant without a warrant. A federal appellate court halted a number of the provisions of the Arizona law. Arizona's immigration law will be the focus of argument in the United States Supreme Court.
Monday, the nation's highest court accepted review of the Arizona immigration law. Challenges to other state immigration laws are not addressed in the current Supreme Court review. Recently the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, which also covers Florida, blocked part of Alabama's individual state immigration law. Similar appeals in South Carolina and Utah are not as far along in the federal court process. Federal immigration litigation helps to clarify immigration issues, and the Supreme Court generally has the last word on federal questions of law.
The current appeal reaches the Supreme Court after the Obama administration filed a lawsuit challenging Arizona's authority to pass a state immigration law. The issue of immigration has become a hot-button issue in individual states, as well as in the national political scene--as the presidential race continues.
However, outside of the political arena, the issues have an everyday effect on foreign nationals who are in the United States. This blog has recently reported the effect that Alabama's law has had on at least two car manufacturing executives who were visiting Florida's northern neighboring state.
The Obama administration previously argued that the Supreme Court should wait to hear argument on state immigration laws until after other state law challenges are decided and have risen further in the federal courts. An immigration expert from Temple University told the Associated Press that the Supreme Court "could have waited for the more extreme case to come from Alabama, which really outflanked the Arizona law."
Sources say the Arizona case will likely be argued before the high court in April. The Supreme Court would have roughly two months remaining in the current term after that to decide the case.
Source: Associated Press, "High court to review tough Arizona immigration law," Mark Sherman, Dec. 12, 2011