See update at the end of the post with reaction to the Supreme Court ruling by Rep. Loretta Sanchez:
ORIGINAL POST, JUNE 25, 8:35 A.M.: The U.S. Supreme Court this morning rejected nearly all of Arizona's controversial immigration law yet upheld SB 1070's most controversial provision: the one requiring police officers to check the immigration status of people they stop. Unlike parts of the law that make it a crime for the undocumented to work or require people to carry immigration documents on them at all times, it is not yet clear the so-called "show me your papers" provision conflicts with federal law, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the opinion.
Kennedy wrote it would be improper to block that provision before state courts had an opportunity to review it, and without some showing that its enforcement conflicted with federal immigration law. That does, of course, leave open the possibility for future constitutional challenges.
The other justices agreed unanimously on the "show me your papers" ruling, but they split on the others. The Obama Administration had argued all of SB 1070 undermines federal law, and today's partial ruling in its favor is considered an election year setback for the president.
Arizona two years ago became the first of half a dozen states that adopted laws to drive out undocumented residents. It is estimated 360,000 illegal immigrants reside in Arizona, or about 3 percent of those believed to be living in the U.S.
Today's decision was preceded by Village Voice Media's special "Freedom Under Fire" report:
• "Arizona Senate Bill 1070's Days of Rage": The U.S. Supreme Court and President Barack Obama leave the undocumented and their allies no choice but to escalate civil disobedience. Stephen Lemons reports.
UPDATE, JUNE 25, 12:26 P.M.: "This ruling by the Supreme Court to strike down large portions of SB 1070 confirms what I have always maintained-that immigration enforcement is a federal responsibility," says Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Garden Grove), in a statement her office fired off. "This is a victory and vindication that state and local municipalities simply do not have the authority to set the law on immigration matters."
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But in the next breath, Sanchez says she is "deeply disappointed the Court upheld the discriminatory " 'show me your papers' provision" of Arizona's controversial immigration law.
"I am especially concerned for the impact of this law on citizens who are here legally," Sanchez observes. "It is likely they will be singled out and will face harassment simply for looking like an immigrant. We are a nation of immigrants and I fear this provision will be impossible to enforce fairly and even handedly, in a manner that accurately reflects our American values. As a senior member of the Committee on Homeland Security, I will be alert to this situation and will watch for the even implementation of this law."
The decision only bolsters Sanchez's belief that comprehensive reform of federal immigration laws is critical, something the first Orange County Latina elected to the House vows to pursue with her colleagues "in a bipartisan fashion."