Arizona's Attempt To Crackdown On Immigration (Mostly) Rejected By Supreme Court

Author:Fisher & Philips LLP
Profession:Fisher & Phillips LLP

On June 25, 2012, the Supreme Court held that certain provisions of Arizona's immigration statute (signed into law in 2010) were preempted by federal immigration law. The preempted provisions include those making it a criminal offense for an undocumented worker to solicit, apply for, or perform work in the state; making it a misdemeanor for an individual to fail to comply with federal alien-registration requirements; and authorizing state and local officers to arrest persons who the officer has probable cause to believe has committed a public offense making the person removable from the United States.

But the Court upheld the section requiring police officers to make a determination of the immigration status of any person stopped, detained, or arrested before the state courts had an opportunity to interpret the law and without a showing that its enforcement would conflict with federal immigration law and its objectives.

The Court's decision today will impact pending cases involving U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) challenges to other state immigration laws (including Alabama and South Carolina) currently in federal court.


On April 23, 2010, Arizona enacted Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act which required law enforcement officers to determine the immigration status of any person if reasonable suspicion existed that the person was unlawfully present in the U.S. It also made it a misdemeanor 1) for an occupant of a motor vehicle to attempt to hire or to hire day laborers; 2) for an individual to fail to carry his or her alien registration while on private or public land; or 3) for a person unlawfully in the U.S. to solicit or perform work in Arizona.

In addition, the law made it a crime to transport or move, conceal, harbor or shield a person in Arizona who is known to be unlawfully present in the U.S. or to encourage or induce a person to come to, enter, or reside in Arizona.

Before the effective date of the law, the DOJ sued the State of Arizona alleging that the law violated both the Supremacy and Commerce Clauses of the Constitution, and was preempted by the Immigration and Nationality Act. Despite the DOJ's request for injunctive relief against the law in its entirety, a U.S. district court granted a preliminary injunction of only four sections on the likelihood that they would be preempted by federal law.

The four enjoined sections were the provisions: 1) requiring that an officer make a reasonable attempt...

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