Anti-Immigrant States Better Lawyer Up

The Supreme Court did not hand down its decision on Obamacare today but it did reveal clues about how it views federal power.

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The Supreme Court decision striking down much of Arizona's tough immigration law isn't just a bummer for the Copper State's finger-pointin' governor. Since Jan Brewer signed the Arizona bill into law in April 2010, a patchwork of states across the country adopted similar laws cracking down on illegal immigration, which are now subject to a wave of lawsuits. "They're going to have to budget money for further litigation," Dan Kowalski, editor-in-chief of Bender's Immigration Bulletin, told CNN. "No matter what they propose on a state level, it's going to be challenged. That costs a lot of money." To be sure, each state's immigration laws are different but in reviewing Arizona's law, the high court made clear some measures are beyond the pale, such as banning illegal immigration from looking for work in public places, warantless arrests of immigrants believed to have committed a crime and requiring that all immigrations carry their documents at all times, reports The New York Times John Cushman. That puts a range of states on high alert. Here's which ones better lawyer up:


  • Requires public schools to confirm students' immigration status (currently blocked by a U.S. appeals court)
  • Requires publication of names of illegal immigrants if they appear in court for violating state law (conviction not necessary)


  • Gives police the right to investigate the immigration status of suspected criminals (provision was blocked by a federal judge in June)
  • Required some companies to enroll in the federal E-Verify program to find out if their workers are legal


  • Gives police the right to arrest anyone who was ordered deported by an immigration court (the provision was blocked in June)

South Carolina

  • Requires police to examine the immigration status of everyone they detain 
  • Bans illegal immigrations from looking for work in the state


  • Gives police the choice to check immigration status for those suspected in minor crimes 

Now one thing the Supreme Court case does give clearance for is the "check your papers" provision, and that's why Brewer is celebrating the decision as a "victory for the rule of law." USA Today's Alan Gomez reports that the high court approved the provision that "requires state and local police to check the immigration status of people they've stopped or detained if a 'reasonable suspicion' exists that the person is in the country illegally." Still, the other aspects of the bill were considered illicit and since some of these states have them on their books (see full details of other state laws in this Reuters article), they should probably be on guard.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.