Wednesday, March 28, 2012
California Attorney General Kamala Harris has joined officials from 10 other states in asking the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Arizona’s immigration law, saying the law exceeds state authority, conflicts with national policy and would drive illegal immigrants into other states.
The law would require police to demand proof of legal status from anyone in their custody whom they suspect of being in the country illegally. Largely blocked by court order since its passage two years ago, it is scheduled for a Supreme Court hearing on April 25, with a ruling due by the end of June.
Harris said Tuesday that the Arizona law would disrupt a “cohesive federal immigration policy” that is particularly important in California. She cited a 2011 report by the Pew Hispanic Center that said California has more undocumented immigrants – 2.5 million – making up a greater share of the workforce – 9.7 percent – than any other state.
Arizona officials argue that the federal government has failed to police the nation’s borders and say their law would aid federal enforcement.
But California and other states opposing the law told the Supreme Court that the Arizona statute goes beyond federal law in several respects – making it a crime, for example, to be in the country illegally and to seek work – and would interfere with a uniform national approach to immigration.
“Arizona is impermissibly attempting to chart its own course in the identification, apprehension and detention of undocumented immigrants for purposes of expelling them from the state,” said the brief, drafted by the New York attorney general’s office and signed by Harris and her counterparts in nine other states.
Federal law allows states to identify and arrest suspected illegal immigrants, they said – but only with the federal government’s advance agreement and direct supervision.
And because Arizona cannot force the federal government to deport anyone, the states argued, its law would succeed only in “redirecting undocumented immigrants to other states.”
Bob Egelko is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. firstname.lastname@example.org
This article appeared on page A – 12 of the San Francisco Chronicle