High Court Weighs Arizona's Immigration Law

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WASHINGTON -- As arguments began Wednesday in the Supreme Court case on Arizona's immigration law, justices seemed skeptical of the claim that the law allows the state to overstep boundaries.

Those who oppose Arizona's S.B. 1070 say the legislation targets Latinos by allowing police officers to ask people about their immigration status during routine stops if they are suspicious.

"We should not have laws in which 50 states have 50 different ways of treating immigration policy," Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., argued.

"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," he added.

Click play for Paul Strand's report followed by reaction on the Supreme Court case from South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson.

But Jay Sekulow, chief counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice, said the law is not about racial profiling.

"The chief justice asked and the government conceded that this case is not about racial or ethnic profiling, which was the basis of so much of the discussion in the media," Sekulow said.

The ACLJ filed a brief on behalf of 57 members of Congress and some members of the Arizona delegation.

Arizona Sheriff Larry Dever, who serves Cochise County along the state's border with Mexico, talked more the controversial immigration law, on CBN News Channel Morning News, April 25.

Those on the front lines, like Cochise County Sheriff Larry Dever whose deputies patrol 82 miles of border with Mexico, say if the justices rule against the immigration law, it will send a bad signal.

"We've been in a pitched battle down there. It's only going to increase and grow," Dever said. "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."

Backers of the law argue that the legislation is just a copy of the federal law against illegal immigration. So the real issue is whether Arizona enforce the law when the federal government is refusing to.

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

"I'm embarrassed by those who ignore the damage to America. I'm embarrassed by those who think it's somehow unfair to enforce our laws," said former Arizona Senate leader Russell Pearce.

But, that's not the way opponents see it.

"I've had so many children tell me first-hand, 'We are so afraid when our mom and dad leave in the morning because we don't know if they'll be there when we get home from school,'" immigration advocate Cardinal Roger Mahoney said.

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer understands the law could end up putting all of her state's nearly 500,000 illegal immigrants in jail.

"If they're breaking the law, there's that possibility I assume," she said.

Many wonder how the Supreme Court ruling could affect the upcoming election and the very important Latino vote. The court is expected to rule on the law by mid-summer.

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Paul  Strand

Paul Strand

CBN News Washington Sr. Correspondent

As senior correspondent in CBN's Washington, D.C., bureau, Paul Strand has covered a variety of political and social issues, with an emphasis on defense, justice, and Congress.  Follow Paul on Twitter @PaulStrandCBN and "like" him at Facebook.com/PaulStrandCBN.