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June 25--  (Courtesy ABC News) Police officers in Arizona are allowed to check the immigration status of every person who is stopped or arrested, the Supreme Court ruled this morning.

But the court struck down other key parts of the law, signaling a victory for the federal government in its authority over immigration law.

The controversial immigration measure passed in Arizona two years ago and has been opposed by President Obama.

Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote that the policy could interfere with federal immigration law, but that the court couldn't assume that it would.

"The Federal Government has brought suit against a sovereign State to challenge the provision even before the law has gone into effect," Kennedy wrote. "There is a basic uncertainty about what the law means and how it will be enforced."

PHOTO: Jan Brewer
Mark Wilson/Getty Images
The law — known as SB 1070 — was signed into law by Gov. Jan Brewer in April 2010, but immediately challenged by the Obama administration. A lower court sided with the administration and agreed to prevent four of the most controversial provisions from going into effect.

Besides the "show me your papers" provision, another criminalizes unauthorized work, a third makes it a state crime to fail to carry immigration papers, and a fourth allows the warrantless arrests when an officer has probable cause to believe a person has committed an offense that would result in deportation.

Other measures of the law were struck down, including a provision that made it a crime for undocumented immigrants to be in Arizona or seek work in the state.

In court Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr. argued that the Constitution gives the federal government authority over immigration control and that the Arizona law interfered with existing federal law.

Verrilli said that while the federal government welcomes the assistance of state officers, Arizona is trying to adopt its own immigration policy while paying no heed to the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), the principal federal immigration statute that establishes the scheme for the regulation of immigration.

But Paul Clement, arguing on behalf of Arizona, argued that the law was passed because states are frustrated with the federal government's efforts to curb illegal immigration. Clement said that the Arizona law was drafted to cooperate with existing federal law.

Georgia Democrats React to Ruling

House Democrats are disappointed about the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the “papers please” provision of Arizona’s Senate Bill 1070, but are pleased that federal preemption rights were upheld.


In a split decision, the Supreme Court ruled this morning that Arizona can require state and local police to check the immigration status of those they have stopped.


Today’s narrow and limited ruling upheld section 2b by the thinnest of threads, and will undoubtedly be challenged as soon as law enforcement attempts to apply this ruling to the real world.


House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams is particularly disturbed by the Court's tepid support of this provision and believes that the clause will invite racial profiling.


"The Supreme Court today issued a troubling ruling that encourages racial profiling, and we must remain vigilant that this does not happen in Georgia,” said Leader Abrams. “We are very disappointed by the "show your papers" provision, which returns us to a terrible time in our state's history. Human rights must be protected for all - regardless of race or status. This ruling allows racial profiling to resume in Georgia. The fact that it is now legal does not make it right, and we call upon the Governor and the GOP leadership to repeal this disturbing trend in our state's lawmaking."


“Today's Supreme Court ruling reflects the real concerns the justices have about green lighting racial profiling even as they narrowly upheld section 2b.  This isn't over in the courts by any stretch, and we'll continue fighting in Georgia to repeal HB 87,” said Representative Pedro Marin.


The Progressive States Network believes that the provision undermines public safety and results in higher costs for cash-strapped states.


“Law enforcement depends on building trust in communities,” added Progressive State’s Suman Raghunathan. “When the criminal justice system, with its limited budget and capacity, is burdened with the time and cost-intensive process of apprehending, detaining, and deporting undocumented immigrants, we all become less safe.”


Leader Abrams is adamant that Georgia should not follow in Arizona’s footsteps.


“The court may have left the door slightly open with today's ruling, but we in Georgia must oppose laws that hurt agriculture, stifle tourism and break up families,” said Leader Abrams.


“Our state has other pressing priorities - we need money for education and economic development - not ill-conceived immigration enforcement programs. Today's ruling reminds us of the need to make our voices heard this November at the ballot box. The only way we can win the long-term fight for working families is by engaging in democracy and in the electoral process.”