High Court Signals Support for Ariz. Immigration Law

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The Supreme Court is taking on one of the hottest topics in America: the battle over immigration laws. The question being posed is should Arizona and other states be allowed to target illegal immigrants?

On Wednesday, the court signaled they could be leaning toward upholding state's rights and rejecting the Obama administration's case.

At the heart of the case is America's porous borders. State and local officials say rising illegal immigration has led to rising crime against their citizens.

"We've been in a pitched battle down there. It's only going to increase and grow. I think a lot of people are waiting to see what's going to happen before they creep back into the country, some that have left," Sheriff Larry Dever of Cochise County, Ariz., told CBN News.

That's why the state of Arizona passed an immigration law that allows law enforcement to check the immigration status of anyone they suspect is in the U.S. illegally, during routine traffic stops.

Opponents of the law say it targets Latinos. The Obama administration agreed, blocking Arizona's law and sending it to the Supreme Court.

"We should not have laws in which 50 states have 50 different ways of treating immigration policy," Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., said. "Especially laws that can only be enforced by making judgments on whether you have dirt on your boots, the color of your skin, the accent of your voice, or your last name."

But supporters of the law say it's simply a copy of the existing federal law against illegal immigration. So the real issue is whether Arizona can enforce the law when the federal government is refusing to do so.

"It merely allows the state and local authorities to enforce federal law," Rep. Ben Quayle, R-Ariz., said. "The federal government and this administration should be embracing that cooperation."

On Wednesday, Supreme Court justices strongly implied they're leaning toward upholding the rights of the states. 

"The state of Arizona has a massive emergency with social disruption, economic disruption, residents leaving the state because of a flood of immigrants," Justice Anthony Kennedy said.

Even liberal Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the first Hispanic on the high court, seemed skeptical of the Obama administration's arguments.

"You can see it's not selling very well," she told the solicitor general. "Why don't you try to come up with something else?"

Meanwhile, Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said if the Supreme Court upholds the law, he plans to overturn it through Congress. He said he'll pass legislation that will block states from passing their own immigration laws.

The court's decision will affect several other states that have passed similar immigration laws. It also directly affects the fall presidential campaign. Republicans have alienated many Hispanic voters because of their aggressive stand on illegal immigration.

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Caitlin Burke

Caitlin Burke

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