WASHINGTON -- Mitt Romney's belated and wooly engagement in the debate over the legality of Arizona's immigration policy on Monday seems unlikely to offer him much political relief on the topic in the weeks, if not months, ahead.
The presumptive Republican presidential nominee took six hours to respond to the Supreme Court's ruling that several of the major provisions in SB 1070 violated the Constitution. And when he did, he spoke in broad terms.
"[G]iven the failure of the immigration policy in this country, I would have preferred to see the Supreme Court give more latitude to the states, not less," he told a group of donors. "And there are states now that under this decision have less authority, less latitude, to enforce immigration laws." Because the president hasn't acted, Romney said, "it’s a muddle."
The response left political observers wondering what exactly Romney thought about the different portions of the Arizona law, including the one the court left intact: a provision allowing police to ask for those they suspect of being in the country illegally for their papers. But even those lingering vagaries weren't enough to stop Romney's opponents from pouncing. By Wednesday morning, both President Barack Obama's campaign and the White House were arguing that the former governor's statement constituted an implicit endorsement of the controversial Arizona law.
"Once Mitt Romney finally responded yesterday with his thoughts on the ruling, he made clear that he does believe that we should have a patchwork of different state laws on immigration across the country," Ben LaBolt, press secretary for the campaign, said on a conference call. "He had previously expressed support for the Arizona immigration law and called it a national model. In that response, he made it clear that he still believes that today."
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney echoed that sentiment during a press gaggle held around the same time, arguing that Romney's response to the court's decision confirmed that and he other Republicans "still believe that the Arizona law is a model for the country."
Romney never appeared to go that far, neither in the past nor on Monday. He praised Arizona for moving forward with reforms in the absence of federal action and argued that the federal government should drop its lawsuits against it and other states. But he was referring to other legislation when he discussed a national model, his aides stressed Wednesday.
"They’re wrong," responded one Romney campaign aide. "Romney never said that the 'Arizona Law' (SB 1070) should be a model for the nation. He did say that he thought a different law passed years before SB1070 and upheld by the Supreme Court in 2011 that deals with e-Verify should be a model. Since Romney supports a national e-Verify system."
The debate, in the end, boils down to whether opposing the federal government's objection to Arizona's immigration reforms is synonymous with supporting those reforms themselves. It certainly hasn't helped Romney that his campaign has largely avoided answering such questions since entering the general election campaign.
But if the presumptive Republican nominee faces attacks from across the ideological aisle, he also remains vulnerable within his own party. Several conservative organizations in the past few weeks have begun pushing immigration reform proposals under the radar. The proposals, depending on one's perspective, could either give Romney a lifeline on the topic or prove to be a campaign headache.
Crossroads GPS, Karl Rove's political advocacy group, recently endorsed a bipartisan bill that eased restrictions on highly educated or skilled workers who were hoping to enter the country for employment purposes. The substance of the proposal isn't far off from Romney's pledge to ease worker visa programs and grant greater green card access to undocumented Americans. But the Romney campaign did not respond to a request for his position on the idea.
A trickier situation may have developed in Texas, where the Republican Party has adopted the platform it is planning to push at the Republican National Convention.
Dubbed "The Texas Solution," it includes hardline conservative elements, including a pledge for full border security and a proposal to redefine birthright citizenship as belonging to someone "born to a citizen of the United States with no exceptions." But the platform also calls for a national guest-worker program and declares that the deportation of the 11 to 12 million undocumented immigrants in the country would be neither "equitable nor practical," measures that could cause rifts within the broader GOP.
"It is frustrating to see that in conservative Republican politics, immigration has become a third rail, which is crazy," said Brad Bailey, founder and CEO of the Hard Work Clean Hands Initiative, the conservative 501c4 group that helped craft the platform.
"We are here to support Governor Romney," Bailey said. "We want to get our plan in front of him, and say, 'Hey, let's lead with solutions and not rhetoric.'"
Below, more reaction to the Supreme Court's decision on Arizona's immigration law from around the political world:
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R)
<a href="http://www.azgovernor.gov/dms/upload/PR_062512_SB107SCRuling.pdf" target="_hplink">Via her official website:</a> "Today's decision by the U.S. Supreme Court is a victory for the rule of law. It is also a victory for the 10th Amendment and all Americans who believe in the inherent right and responsibility of states to defend their citizens. After more than two years of legal challenges, the heart of SB 1070 can now be implemented in accordance with the U.S. Constitution."
President Barack Obama
"I am pleased that the Supreme Court has struck down key provisions of Arizona's immigration law. What this decision makes unmistakably clear is that Congress must act on comprehensive immigration reform. A patchwork of state laws is not a solution to our broken immigration system - it's part of the problem." "At the same time, I remain concerned about the practical impact of the remaining provision of the Arizona law that requires local law enforcement officials to check the immigration status of anyone they even suspect to be here illegally. I agree with the Court that individuals cannot be detained solely to verify their immigration status. No American should ever live under a cloud of suspicion just because of what they look like. Going forward, we must ensure that Arizona law enforcement officials do not enforce this law in a manner that undermines the civil rights of Americans, as the Court's decision recognizes. Furthermore, we will continue to enforce our immigration laws by focusing on our most important priorities like border security and criminals who endanger our communities, and not, for example, students who earn their education - which is why the Department of Homeland Security announced earlier this month that it will lift the shadow of deportation from young people who were brought to the United States as children through no fault of their own." "I will work with anyone in Congress who's willing to make progress on comprehensive immigration reform that addresses our economic needs and security needs, and upholds our tradition as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants. And in the meantime, we will continue to use every federal resource to protect the safety and civil rights of all Americans, and treat all our people with dignity and respect. We can solve these challenges not in spite of our most cherished values - but because of them. What makes us American is not a question of what we look like or what our names are. What makes us American is our shared belief in the enduring promise of this country - and our shared responsibility to leave it more generous and more hopeful than we found it."
GOP Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney
"<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/25/mitt-romney-arizona-immigration-law-sb1070-scotus_n_1624618.html" target="_hplink">Today's decision</a> underscores the need for a President who will lead on this critical issue and work in a bipartisan fashion to pursue a national immigration strategy. President Obama has failed to provide any leadership on immigration."
Attorney General Eric Holder
"I welcome the Supreme Court's decision to strike down major provisions of Arizona's S.B. 1070 on federal preemption grounds. Today's ruling appropriately bars the State of Arizona from effectively criminalizing unlawful status in the state and confirms the federal government's exclusive authority to regulate in the area of immigration. "While I am pleased the Court confirmed the serious constitutional questions the government raised regarding Section 2, I remain concerned about the impact of Section 2, which requires law enforcement officials to verify the immigration status of any person lawfully stopped or detained when they have reason to suspect that the person is here unlawfully. As the Court itself recognized, Section 2 is not a license to engage in racial profiling and I want to assure communities around this country that the Department of Justice will continue to vigorously enforce federal prohibitions against racial and ethnic discrimination. We will closely monitor the impact of S.B. 1070 to ensure compliance with federal immigration law and with applicable civil rights laws, including ensuring that law enforcement agencies and others do not implement the law in a manner that has the purpose or effect of discriminating against the Latino or any other community. "We will also work to ensure that the verification provision does not divert police officers away from traditional law enforcement efforts in order to enforce federal immigration law, potentially impairing local policing efforts and discouraging crime victims, including children of non-citizens, victims of domestic violence, and asylum seekers, from reporting abuses and crimes out of fear of detention or deportation. We will continue to use every federal resource to protect the safety and civil rights of all Americans."
Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio
<a href="http://www.abc15.com/dpp/news/region_phoenix_metro/central_phoenix/video-sheriff-joe-arpaio-talks-sb-1070-dream-act" target="_hplink">Via ABC 15:</a> "Nothing has changed. Of course, the Justice Department is accusing me of racial profiling. Went to court, but we do the right thing, we've been doing it. We'll continue to enforce the laws."
Secretary Of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano
"I am pleased that the U.S. Supreme Court confirmed that state laws cannot dictate the federal government's immigration enforcement policies or priorities. DHS remains focused on enhancing public safety and the integrity of our border by prioritizing enforcement resources on those who are in the country unlawfully and committing crimes, those who have repeatedly violated our immigration laws, and those who recently crossed our borders illegally. The Court's decision not to strike down Section Two at this time will make DHS' work more challenging. Accordingly, DHS will implement operational enhancements to its programs in Arizona to ensure that the agency can remain focused on its priorities. Over the past three and half years, this Administration has dedicated unprecedented resources to secure the border and to enforcing our nation's immigration laws in a firm and reasonable fashion. We continue to urge Congress to pass comprehensive reform because nothing short of a comprehensive solution will resolve the current patchwork of immigration laws. Finally, it is important to note that today's Supreme Court decision will not impact the memorandum I issued on June 15threlated to prosecutorial discretion eligibility for productive members of society who were brought to the United States as children."
Sens. Jon Kyl & John McCain (R-Ariz.)
"While we still want to fully review the Supreme Court's decision, today's ruling appears to validate a key component of Arizona's immigration law, SB 1070. The Arizona law was born out of the state's frustration with the burdens that illegal immigration and continued drug smuggling impose on its schools, hospitals, criminal justice system and fragile desert environment, and an administration that chooses to set enforcement policies based on a political agenda, not the laws as written by Congress. We will continue our efforts on behalf of the citizens of Arizona to secure our southern border. We believe Arizonans are better served when state and federal officials work as partners to protect our citizens rather than as litigants in a courtroom."
Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.)
"The Supreme Court was right to strike down the vast majority of the Arizona law. With three out of the four provisions being struck down, the ruling shows that the Obama administration was right to challenge this law, which was not just ill-advised but also unconstitutional. "I am greatly concerned that the provision putting American citizens in danger of being detained by police unless they carry their immigration papers at all times will lead to a system of racial profiling. This is a strong reminder that ultimately, the responsibility for fixing our nation's broken immigration system lies with Congress. President Obama's decision to defer deportation of young people brought here through no fault of their own was necessary precisely because Republicans have so far refused to work with Democrats on forging common-sense solutions to our immigration challenge that are fair, tough and practical. Immigration reform should continue securing our borders; punish unscrupulous employers who exploit immigrants and undercut American wages; pass the DREAM Act; and require the 11 million who are undocumented to register with the government, learn English, pay fines, pay taxes and go to the end of the line to legalize their status." "Looking ahead to the immigration debate, it is disturbing that Mitt Romney called the unconstitutional Arizona law a 'model' for immigration reform. Laws that legalize discrimination are not compatible with our nation's ideals and traditions of equal rights, and the idea that such an unconstitutional law should serve as a 'model' for national reform is far outside the American mainstream."
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY)
"This is as strong a repudiation of the Arizona law as one could expect given that the law has not been implemented yet. Three linchpins of the Arizona law were struck down by a convincing majority of the Court as clearly violating federal law, and a fourth is on thin legal ice. The Court is sending a stern warning to Arizona that the provision allowing local law enforcement to check people's immigration documents cannot be implemented in a discriminatory or draconian way, or it will be thrown out like the rest of the law." "This decision tells us that states cannot take the law into their own hands and makes it clear that the only real solution to immigration reform is a comprehensive federal law. The decision should importune Republicans and Democrats to work together on this issue in a bipartisan way."
Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.)
"While I am pleased that the Supreme Court struck down the vast majority of Arizona's immigration law, I share the concerns of President Obama and many legal organizations over the decision to leave in place the dangerous 'show-me-your-papers' provision. This provision of the law keeps the door open to blatant discrimination against American citizens, minorities, and immigrants. The Court has said this section needs additional review, and I am hopeful that it will be struck down in the future. "The Supreme Court's ruling is a clear reminder of the urgent need to enact comprehensive immigration reform. Democrats have always been ready to work across the aisle and pass legislation without further delay. However, Republicans have chosen a confrontational course - calling Arizona's law a 'model' for reform; refusing to pass the DREAM Act; and standing in the way of bipartisan action to pass real reform. "No state should be in the business of weakening civil rights. Moving forward, we must act to uphold our values by fighting for reform that secures our borders, upholds the rule of law, protects our workers, unites families, and provides a pathway to legalization."
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa)
U.S. Congressional Candidate Andrei Cherny (D-Ariz.)
<a href="https://twitter.com/AndreiCherny/status/217264814148431872" target="_hplink">Via Twitter:</a> "The fact remains about #SB1070 that its a bad law. Arpaio needs to be held accountable not given more powers. Congress must act on reform."
Senate Democratic Leader David Schapira
Via <a href="http://azsenatedems.blogspot.com/2012/06/statements-on-sb1070-ruling.html" target="_hplink">AZ Senate Dems</a>: "The Supreme Court has sent two messages today: that states cannot pass policies that undermine federal law and that Congress must act on comprehensive reform in order to address this issue and avoid these kinds of legal conflicts. We cannot begin to honestly solve the issue of illegal immigration until those in Congress are willing to have meaningful discussions on comprehensive reform." "Recently, the President took action because of the failure of Congress to act. Predictably, the knee-jerk reaction of extremists like Jan Brewer and her Tea Party Republicans was to trash good policy in favor of their worn-out politics of the past. This is exactly the type of politics that is taking Arizona backwards." "It's time for Arizona to turn to a new chapter, to leave behind the extreme and divisive politics that have dominated this state. It's time to work together to create jobs and improve education, things that Governor Brewer and her Tea Party Republicans in the Legislature have failed to do."
State Sen. Steve Gallardo (D)
Via <a href="http://azsenatedems.blogspot.com/2012/06/statements-on-sb1070-ruling.html" target="_hplink">AZ Senate Dems</a>: "After President Obama's bold move on immigration, people who for all intents and purposes are living as Americans and contributing to our society are able to step out of the shadows, live without fear of deportation and keep working and going to school here." "SB1070 has created a hostile environment for Latinos in Arizona and has done nothing but pander to the extreme political right while damaging Arizona's reputation and economy at a time we can least afford. The people of Arizona are tired of these partisan Republican games." "Americans favor President Obama's policy change by a two-to-one margin. Even the Arizona GOP spokesman admitted that it might be time for that party to reconsider its Russell Pearce approach to immigration." "The truth is, it's long past time and today's ruling doesn't change the fact that Arizona's Republican-led legislature has done nothing to create jobs or restore the devastating cuts they have made to our kids' schools." --
U.S. Senate Candidate Richard Carmona (D)
"For decades, politicians in Washington have talked about this problem, but nothing ever gets done and Arizonans continue to shoulder the burden of a broken immigration system. SB 1070 is a product of the federal government's failure to act. Today's ruling does not help us secure the border, and it does not provide a solution for the 400,000 undocumented people living in Arizona." "As a deputy sheriff of a border county, I've witnessed first hand the human cost of not having a workable solution. I've seen the results of the violence and drugs, and I know the terrible toll that has taken on our community. But SB 1070 doesn't help local law enforcement fix the problem. It's a distraction that hinders our ability to build trust with the communities we serve." "Our immigration problems are complex, but the solutions are simple: secure the border, develop a pathway to earn legal status and enact the DREAM Act. Leadership on this issue takes courage, but it also requires politicians to stop using immigration as a wedge issue to score political points." "It wasn't long ago that two diametrically opposed leaders -- President George W. Bush and the late Senator Ted Kennedy -- came together to try to solve the problem. There was even a time when Senator John McCain and Congressman Jeff Flake favored a comprehensive approach that was practical and fair. It's going to take a more honest debate and the political will to get it done - and that's what's been missing in Washington."
Former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.)
Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas)
"I am disappointed by the Supreme Court's decision today, which limits the ability of states to protect their citizens and communities from illegal immigrants. It is the federal government's job to enforce our immigration laws, but President Obama has willfully neglected this responsibility. This dereliction of duty has left states to address the crime, job loss, and other costs of illegal immigration. "Unfortunately, under this Administration, today's ruling essentially puts an end to immigration enforcement since the states no longer can step in and fill the void created by the Obama administration. This is especially bad news for border states since they have to deal with border violence, drug trafficking and illegal immigration. "Throughout the past three years, President Obama and his administration have ignored our immigration laws and have encouraged more illegal immigration by their actions. President Obama has abused his executive branch authority to allow potentially millions of illegal immigrants to live and work in the U.S. And under this Administration, worksite enforcement has plummeted 70%, allowing illegal immigrants to hold jobs while 13 million Americans are looking for work. "According to a recent poll, two-thirds of the American people want to see our laws enforced. But President Obama puts illegal immigrants and his partisan agenda ahead of the interests of the American people. If our immigration laws are going to be enforced, we need a new President this January who will enforce immigration laws, not deliberately ignore them." (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.)
Rep. Ben Quayle (R-Ariz.)
"I find it unfortunate that the Supreme Court struck down some provisions of S.B. 1070. The federal government has failed spectacularly in its duty to enforce immigration laws, and Arizona's law simply sought to fill the enforcement void left by this failure. I'm glad to see the court uphold the central part of this law however. "Under this ruling, police will have the opportunity to check the legal status of individuals in the course of enforcing other laws. This is a major victory in Arizona's efforts to give law enforcement new tools to enforce the law where the Obama Administration will not. Until we obtain operational control of our southern border and fully enforce current laws, we can't have a credible, substantive conversation on immigration reform. By enhancing the enforcement of our immigration laws, this ruling puts us on that path."
Rep. David Schweikert (R-Ariz.)
RNC Chairman Reince Priebus
"Once again we are reminded that President Obama has failed to keep his promise on immigration reform. In the absence of presidential leadership, states have acted on their own to serve their people and enforce the law, but the issue cannot fully be resolved with a president unwilling to keep his promises. This decision makes that job even more difficult, and it leaves Americans waiting for a plan the president promised to deliver years ago."
Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.)
"The Supreme Court dealt a blow to the anti-immigrant movement, but also dealt a blow to Latinos and immigrants living in the United States. This threatens the safety of all Americans and undermines the fundamental relationship between police and the communities they serve, and I am proud that Chicago is not going down that road." "A central part of the law, which requires state and local law enforcement to check someone's citizenship status in the course of their duties, was upheld and will sanction pretextual stops and racial profiling. This gives a green light to Arizona sheriffs and others to use someone's clothing, accent, or appearance to take them to jail and hold them until their immigration status, if any, is sorted out." "Experience has shown us that police are highly unlikely to stop an individual with the last name of Kennedy or Roberts on suspicion of not being a legal U.S. citizen, but if you are a Gutierrez or Martinez, watch out. The express goal of the authors of Arizona's SB1070 is to target immigrants for harassment and make their lives miserable, and a key tool in that effort was upheld by the Court." "In our nation's history, the Supreme Court has been at its best when it expands freedom and demands that all Americans are treated fairly. This court fell short of that ideal today. Leaders who understand that allowing police to target anyone they choose, including American citizens, simply based on the way they look, or the sound of their voice, is wrong and has no place in our great country." "The President and Attorney General fought hard against the Arizona law and deserve praise for their leadership. Much of this decision is a victory for our community. This President is not afraid to do the right thing when faced with injustice. Now the Department of Homeland Security and Department of Justice and the White House have an even more important role in making sure federal immigration laws are not further undermined by and dictated by the states." "The President must stand firm because only the federal government can deport someone or turn a routine traffic stop into a lifetime of exile or a family permanently split apart." "The President's announcement last Friday is all the more important because the Supreme Court has moved to allow states to pick up thousands of low priority deportable immigrants, who could potentially flood already overtaxed deportation resources. Affirmatively protecting DREAM-eligible young immigrants from deportation will help mitigate the damage done by state legislators and the Supreme Court." "Now that leadership from our President is even more vital, it is important to note that Mitt Romney has called the Arizona law -- much of which was just deemed unconstitutional by the nation's highest court -- a "model for the nation." He counts on the main architect of this now-discredited law as a key immigration advisor. Today, the difference in leadership between President Obama and Mr. Romney could not be clearer. I urge Mr. Romney to repudiate his support for a policy now found to be largely unconstitutional."
Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ)
"Today's decision is a victory for all Americans in that the Court correctly affirmed the power of the federal government to set immigration policy. While the Court found that the 'show me your papers' provision requires further evaluation, the Court concluded that it too may be invalidated if it is improperly applied in violation of federal law, including civil rights protections. I am deeply concerned about the welfare of Arizona residents in the meantime, particularly that the 'show me your papers' provision could lead to racial profiling. "We need an immigration system that's fair and practical, not a patchwork of policies that make our broken system worse. The federal government must create a national immigration system that provides for our national security and upholds America's values. That's why I'm working with my colleagues to pursue comprehensive immigration reform."
U.S. Senate Candidate Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.)
"While it's heartening that the Supreme Court rejected several parts of Arizona's radical immigration law, I am deeply disappointed they did not strike down the most discriminatory portion that will force even more people into the shadows. I have opposed this law from the beginning while my opponent, Senator Dean Heller, not only supports it, but wants to bring it here to Nevada. We cannot allow that to happen. "Today's decision is further evidence that we must pass comprehensive immigration reform that secures our borders, cracks down on employers that knowingly hire undocumented immigrants, and provides a pathway to legal status for those that go to the back of the line, learn English, pay a fine and back taxes, and pass a criminal background check. "Unfortunately, Washington Republicans like Senator Heller are continuing to block any progress on fixing our broken immigration system and passing commonsense legislation like the DREAM Act."
Rep. Sam Farr (D-Calif.)
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.)
Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R-Calif.)
Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.)
"The federal government can put an end to all this uncertainty by enforcing the law--at the border and in the workplace. Several provisions of the Arizona law might have been invalidated, but an important part of the law is still in place, so there will be a lot of attention on this one aspect, and how it relates to state-based enforcement. "Arizona's efforts are indicative of a much bigger problem--a problem that in large part sits with the federal government. If this Administration truly believes immigration enforcement is a federal duty, then it wouldn't try to routinely circumvent the law as it has done. Arizona had no other option and the state did what it needed to do for the protection of its citizens."
Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.)
"The Supreme Court's decision today regarding SB 1070 is a mixed bag at best. But one thing is certain: with its efforts suing Arizona, the Obama Administration has focused time and resources that could have been better spent securing the border."
Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.)
"This decision is a mixed bag. Illegal immigration hurts our country in numerous ways and it is sad that states are doing more to enforce our immigration laws than the federal government. President Obama recently decided to impose his liberal immigration policies by fiat, ignoring the rule of law. The President and his Administration are not above the law. "Last week I introduced a bill, the VERIFI Act, which will take one small step toward addressing the problem of illegal immigration. Currently, most government benefit programs, like Medicare and Social Security, do not require a verification of citizenship. This means that illegal immigrants can access benefits that they are not legally allowed to have. This is called cheating. My bill would close this door by requiring a citizenship check before receiving benefits. It's a simple idea that we should act on quickly."
Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.)
"I am pleased that the decision announced by the Supreme Court struck down the bulk of Arizona's immigration law. It is a clear sign that changes to the way we approach undocumented immigrants must take place at the federal level. Democrats are committed to comprehensive immigration reform, and we will continue to propose solutions that reflect our need for secure borders and the reality that millions of people, including many children who were brought here through no fault of their own, have been living and working in our country for years. "I remain concerned by the section of the Arizona law that was upheld today, and its practical implications. Judging people on the basis of race or ethnicity goes against our nation's most fundamental values of equality and justice for all. Democrats will continue to watch with great interest as cases concerning the constitutionality of that provision make their way through the courts, and until that happens, we expect our legal system to ensure that it is applied in a completely non-discriminatory fashion. Democrats will continue standing up for the civil liberties of all Americans and for the pursuit of comprehensive immigration reform, and I call on Republicans to work with us toward both ends."
Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-Texas)
"Today's ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court on the Arizona law, better known as SB 1070, is a move in the right direction. However, the unanimous decision to uphold the 'Show Me Your Papers' provision that allows a police officer or local law enforcement agency to ask for the legal status of a person being detained or arrested hurts communities across our country. This ruling underscores the need for Congress to take up this federal issue and work on a Comprehensive Immigration Reform package that addresses it. "I call on my colleagues - both Democrats and Republicans - to do the right thing and address Comprehensive Immigration Reform. It is unfortunate that partisan politics being played by the Republican majority in the House of Representatives does not allow us, those with common sense, to move meaningful and important immigration legislation forward. "For 26 ½ years, I served as a Border Patrol agent and then sector chief and worked to uphold immigration laws in this country, and today, I know first-hand the dire need to reform these same laws. I will continue to support Comprehensive Immigration Reform that secures our country, unites families, helps our country's economic prosperity and ends a shadow world for millions of people living here."
SB 1070 Co-Author Kris Kobach
On Monday's edition of <a href="http://jstsay.in/0006an" target="_hplink">The Huckabee Report</a> "The great news is that the central provision of the Arizona law has been upheld by the Supreme Court. And, you know, that's great. It's the provision that allows Arizona state and local police to have a state-wide policy of acting whoever they have reasonable suspicion that a person is unlawfully present in the country and calling the Feds and getting an answer -- a 24/7 hotline the federal government has. So that is upheld. But the other provisions of the Arizona law that were at issue before the court were struck down. The issue is it's a decision written by Justice Kennedy, and it's kind of classic Kennedy. You know, really splitting hairs and going one way on one part of the law and one way on the other part of the law. I was hoping for a more principled or across-the-board decision written by maybe somebody like Chief Justice Roberts or solid conservatives."
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.)
"I supported the Obama Administration's decision to question the constitutionality of this law, and I'm pleased that the Supreme Court struck down most of the ill-conceived provisions within this law. However, I am concerned that the "show me your papers" provision was upheld. We must pursue a comprehensive immigration policy so that no American has to live in fear because of their heritage, their last name, or the color of their skin. "This ruling underscores the need for a comprehensive immigration policy that works for all states and all Americans, without compromising our values or undermining the basic civil rights and freedoms we have as Americans. As a Member of Congress, representing a diverse and vibrant population in South Florida, I know that our country deserves better. I look forward to working with my fellow Members of Congress and the President toward comprehensive immigration reform so that all Americans can prosper in a free and secure nation."
Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.)
"I am pleased that the Court struck down three of the four provisions at stake in this divisive law. While our nation's immigration system is in desperate need of reform, enacting patchwork policies that conflict with existing federal laws and Constitutional rights is not the solution. "I was disappointed, however, to see the Court uphold one of the law's most controversial provisions, requiring law enforcement officials to check the status of persons that they arrest if they suspect them of being in the country illegally. This provision sets a dangerous precedent for profiling and discrimination throughout the nation. While we do need to address the illegal immigration problems in our country, directing law enforcement officials to become involved in immigration issues may lead to a rift between legal immigrant populations and communities and local and state law enforcement. This rift could hinder their ability to investigate dangerous criminal activity. The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers are already properly trained and in a better position than local and state officers when it comes to involvement in these complex immigration matters. "As such, I will continue to work in Congress to address our nation's immigration issues in a comprehensive manner, which does not promote discriminatory policies."
Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga.)
"It's great to see the 'show me your papers' provision of the Arizona immigration law has been upheld. The federal government continues to fail the states with its refusal to actually enforce immigration laws, forcing states like Arizona and Georgia to step in and figure out a way to fix their own illegal immigration problems. While it was disappointing to have the Supreme Court strike down some of the teethier provisions of the law, allowing the 'show me your papers' provision to remain sets a precedent to allow states to implement immigration laws when the federal government fails to do so. "We don't know what this might mean for the Georgia law. The Obama Administration has not filed suit against Georgia yet - although they have filed suit against South Carolina, Alabama, and Utah for similar immigration laws - and we don't know if they plan to in the future. But at least the Court's decision does at least leave the door open for states to take care of what Washington has continued to fail to do. This gives Georgia a good argument in favor of our law if the president ever does sue to block it."
Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.)
"The Supreme Court today reaffirmed Georgia's right to enforce its immigration law and protect our taxpayers. Illegal immigration is one of the biggest crises facing our nation, and I am hopeful this victory stands once it returns to the lower courts. Given the Obama administration's refusal to secure our borders, it is of paramount importance that states be able address the issue in their local communities."
Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.)
"I am pleased that the Supreme Court struck down three out of the four key provisions of Arizona's dangerous immigration law. The ruling shows that the Obama Administration was right to challenge the law's constitutionality and reaffirms the notion that the federal government should frame immigration law, not states. However, I share President Obama's deep concern that the Supreme Court left in place the discriminatory 'stop and check' provision, or the ability for state and local law enforcement to require documentation based on how people look or how they speak. These practices promote racial profiling, compromise equal protection under the law and have already led to credible allegations of wrongful arrests and harassment. I support President Obama's call for the full protection of civil rights for all. Our immigration system is broken, and today's decision underscores the need for national comprehensive immigration reform. We made a major step forward last week, when President Obama announced a policy to halt the deportation of young undocumented individuals, the so-called DREAMERs. Yet Republicans continue to stand in the way of long-term solutions like the DREAM Act, which would allow young undocumented individuals to join the military or go to college and have a path to citizenship. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has also called Arizona's unconstitutional immigration policies, a "model" for the nation. Our country is at its best when its sticks to core founding principles - equality, fairness, opportunity for all. Congress must reform our immigration policies in a commonsense way that reflects our values and moves us forward."
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.)
"I applaud the Court for making a balanced and positive ruling today. The most important thing to be determined was whether state and local law enforcement officers can play a role and assist the federal government in enforcing immigration law and the answer is yes. This is a significant victory for those on a state level who are trying to gain control of the massive flow of illegal immigrants into our country. It is clear the problem will never be solved without cooperation from the very top of the federal government and the very bottom of local jurisdictions. The Supreme Court decided that cooperation is constitutionally proper. "This ruling further highlights the long overdue necessity for statutory change to the status quo of lax immigration enforcement, half-hearted border security measures and the elimination of the economic incentives and public benefits that encourage the massive flow of illegal immigration into this country. Thankfully, we have a Court that will give issues like this the honest consideration it deserves."
Rep. Martin Heinrich (D-NM)
"I am pleased that the Supreme Court has struck down key provisions of Arizona's immigration law, but I'm concerned that the 'show me your papers' provision that is still intact casts a wide net over all people of Hispanic descent, and will undoubtedly snare honest, hardworking Americans in a misguided attempt to deport undocumented immigrants. "Arizona's legislation was the wrong reaction to a very real issue. Passing laws that institutionalize racial profiling is no solution. "I am proud that here in New Mexico we value our diverse heritage. Congress must rise to the challenge and fix this broken system at the federal level once and for all."
Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.)
"In their immigration decision, the Supreme Court ruled that the enforcement of immigration laws is a federal responsibility and that no state has the right to discriminate against its own people. "I was disappointed that one provision was upheld, but the Supreme Court sent a clear message that if the measure is not implemented narrowly - to help federal officials enforce immigration law - it will not stand."
Rep. Charlie Gonzalez (D-Texas)
"When three out of four provisions of a state's law are struck down, it obviously can't be viewed as a victory for the state. Nor can an unconstitutional law be used a model for the nation, as Governor Romney suggested. The fact the Romney has said that as president he would not even challenge Arizona's law, shows what a sad direction our country's immigration laws would go under his administration. "The 'show me your papers' provision, that institutionalizes racial profiling, remains a very important element that needs to be addressed. The CHC will coordinate with civil rights groups and immigration law organizations to follow up on a challenge to this provision, which is still an open legal question. We will be watching very closely how Arizona exercises this part of the law and will continue to fight against instances of racial and ethnic profiling."
Rep. Ed Pastor (D-Ariz.)
"In recognizing that federal immigration laws preempt SB 1070, the Supreme Court rightly found three of four harmful provisions unconstitutional, but I'm greatly disappointed that it erroneously upheld the discriminatory 'show me your papers' provision. I'm fearful this troublesome provision will lead to discrimination and racial profiling in Arizona and throughout the country, and I remain supportive of related civil rights suits currently challenging SB 1070 as discriminatory, which was not considered in this most recent Supreme Court case. Further, I ask the U.S. Department of Justice to be aware of efforts to restrict the civil rights of citizens and immigrants alike and increase civil rights enforcement. "Arizona's SB 1070, Section 2(B), the "show me your papers" provision, requires local law enforcement to check the immigration status during any lawful stop, detention or arrest anytime law enforcement officials have "reasonable suspicion" that the individual is unlawfully present. Upholding Section 2(B) will result in the harassment of those here legally, including tourists, legal immigrants and even U.S. citizens and place significant burdens on federal agencies by diverting resources away from dangerous criminals and other high-priority individuals."
Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Calif.)
"While I am pleased that the Supreme Court has wisely decided to strike down several of the most egregious portions of SB 1070, I am disheartened that the law's infamous "show me your papers" provision will remain intact. Not only is this an affront to the American ideal of equal justice under law, it will open the door to rampant racial profiling. Thankfully, in striking down three other key elements of SB 1070, the justices have once again reaffirmed the primacy of the federal government in enforcing our immigration laws. Most Americans understand that a patchwork of state laws in the mold of SB 1070 won't get us any closer to solving this national challenge. What we need now more than ever is for the leaders of both parties to work together with President Obama to finally fix our broken immigration system."
Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-NY)
Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (NY-12): "While I am pleased the Court struck down several of the constitutionally questionable provisions in this law, I remain concerned that it upheld elements that could still allow for racial profiling. Regardless, this issue is not going away. We must continue working for an immigration reform law that addresses these issues in a comprehensive manner."
Rep. Rubén Hinojosa (D-Texas)
"The ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court on the Arizona anti-immigration law does not go far enough in preventing the unjust harassment of anyone who looks Latino or sounds 'foreign.' Letting stand a provision that requires police to check someone's status because they "suspect" them of coming into the country illegally is preposterous. Your grandmother or little brother can be walking to the corner grocery story and be stopped and detained if they look "suspicious." Our Constitution must guarantee that all people - no matter where they were born or what color skin they have are afforded the same basic rights and treated equally. While I am pleased that some of this unconstitutional law was defeated, it still leaves the door open for bigotry and harassment to prevail."
Rep. Joe Baca (D-Calif.)
"The Supreme Court's decision to reject most aspects of Arizona's SB 1070 upholds the Constitution of the United States, and makes it clear that immigration should be exclusively the jurisdiction of the federal government. But I am disappointed that the Court upheld the discriminatory 'show me your papers' provision of the law. If implemented, this misguided provision will inevitably lead to racial profiling. Some Americans will be forced to prove their citizenship based on the color of their skin while others will stand little or no chance of being affected. This is wrong. The CHC will continue to fight to overturn this immoral and unjust provision, and pass a comprehensive immigration that respects the law of the land and our history as a nation of immigrants."
Rep. Albio Sires (D-NJ)
"Today the U.S. Supreme Court struck down key parts of Arizona's SB 1070 that would have gone beyond federal law to criminalize currently civil violations. Unfortunately, the Court upheld the discriminatory provision in the state law that promotes unjustified questioning based on stereotypes of what an undocumented immigrant looks like or sounds like. With similar laws pending in several states, it is critical that the full impact of SB 1070 be understood. Allowing SB 1070's 'show me your papers' provision to go into effect will have devastating consequences on Latino communities throughout the country. "It is now more important than ever that Congress gets serious about passing comprehensive immigration reform to address our broken immigration system. The U.S. Government must also continue to exercise its authority to shape and enforce just and humane immigration policies."
Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-NM)
"While the Supreme Court decision struck down a number of the provisions of SB 1070 and reaffirmed that immigration requires a solution at the federal level, I do have concerns with the part of the law that was left in place," Congressman Ben Ray Luján said. "This decision serves as yet another reminder of the importance of passing comprehensive immigration reform at the federal level that fixes our broken system."
Rep. Pedro Pierluisi (D-PR)
"I think the Court's decision--striking down three of four sections in the Arizona law and suggesting the fourth section will also be struck down if it is interpreted by Arizona courts as giving too much discretion to state officers--is thoughtful and comprehensive. It indicates that Arizona's legislature overstepped its authority in key respects, and reinforces the federal government's primacy with respect to establishing and enforcing our nation's immigration laws."
Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa)
"Today the Supreme Court preserved the most important component of the Arizona law- the provision that allows law enforcement, when reasonable suspicion standards are met, to request that an individual produce identification and verify their immigration status," said King. "This is a significant win when it comes to efforts to increase enforcement of our nation's immigration laws. However, I have serious concerns about the other side of today's ruling, which struck down three other provisions of SB 1070. The three provisions were written to mirror and support federal immigration law. Today's decision makes it harder for states to protect their citizens from the crime wave of illegal immigration driven by drug smuggling. I will now look for a statutory fix that will empower the states. The President refuses to enforce immigration law himself, and he doesn't want anyone else to enforce the laws either."