Texas Democrats Release Statements on SCOTUS Scuttle of Draconian AZ Immigration Law

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Yesterday's SCOTUS ruling on Arizona's draconian immigration law SB1070 prompted no shortage of press releases from Democrats here in Texas. The bill is a stark reminder of Republicans' hostility towards Latinos, and the way in which many members of the GOP view immigrants as second-class human beings, regardless of their immigration status.

In case you missed it, BOR's Legal Corresponded Edward Garris has a run-down of the SCOTUS decision, which found 3 of 4 parts of SB1070 unconstitutional. In related news, the court of sane public opinion found the entire bill cracker-jack crazy. But I digress.

Below the jump, read statements on the SCOTUS AZ decision from State Representative Garnet Coleman, Congressman Silvestre Reyes, Congressman Lloyd Doggett, the Texas Democratic Party, State Representative Carol Alvarado, and State Representative and MALC Chairman Trey Martinez Fischer.  

State Representative Garnet Coleman, HD-147:

“I am very pleased with this decision; we got nearly everything we wanted. The Court ruled that almost all of the harsh provisions of Arizona's new immigration scheme are trumped by federal law. Some of these provisions include

    o requiring undocumented individuals to register with the federal government,
    o making it a state crime for undocumented individuals to seek or hold jobs, and
    o allowing for warrantless arrests of some individuals suspected of being deportable.

This ruling is a defeat for those who are trying to use “states' rights” rhetoric to enact their agenda. It has long been established by the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution that federal law is supreme and may not be countered or circumvented by state law in areas that are meant to be governed exclusively by federal law. This ruling makes it clear that immigration is one of those areas that is under the purview of the federal government, not the states.

The Supreme Court is tentatively allowing one provision to stand: the requirement that Arizona police officers must inquire into the immigration status of an individual during a lawful stop or arrest if that officer reasonably believes the individual might be undocumented. This provision is obviously troublesome, as it invites unnecessary racial profiling that will affect American citizens as well as both legal and undocumented aliens. It will institutionalize the idea of natural born suspects. The Court is also troubled by this provision, but for now they will wait to see how Arizona applies it. The Court's instructions, however, leave no doubt that this too will be struck unless it is applied very, very narrowly.

The Supreme Court's ruling on SB 1070 has particular ramifications for Texas, since Republicans here tried last session to implement many of the exact provisions the Court just invalidated in Arizona. People of color, particularly those in the Latino community, can all breathe a little easier now that the Court has put a clear limit on the ability of states to target some populations under the guise of immigration reform.”


Congressman Silvestre Reyes, CD-16:

“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 26½ 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.”


Congressman Lloyd Doggett, CD-25:

“The Court rightly rejected 3/4th of the Arizona law as unconstitutional, while reserving the right to reconsider implementation of the remaining provision.  That remaining “show me your papers” rule is very troubling.  Its implementation should be reevaluated because of racial profiling. Today's decision only underlines the need for prompt, comprehensive immigration reform–write the DREAM Act into law for youth and let those immigrants, who have been longstanding, law abiding, tax paying residents, pay a penalty and get in line to become citizens.

“Even Rick Perry said the Arizona law was not right for Texas.  Thankfully the Court said it was wrong for America.”


Texas Democratic Party spokeswoman Rebecca Acuña:

“Today's Supreme Court decision only further underscores the need for comprehensive immigration reform at the federal level. We cannot have a patchwork of state immigrations laws that tie the hands of law-enforcement and drive a wedge between police and the communities they are supposed to protect. Police officers should focus on targeting dangerous criminals and not spend their limited resources inquiring about a person's immigration status.

Unfortunately, Rick Perry and his Republicans colleagues continue to use Latinos as a political piñata to earn points with extremists in their Party. Here in our state, Republicans attempted to enact a myriad of burdensome immigration laws that would have unfairly targeted Latinos. We need a comprehensive solution that focuses on the economic realities of our country, not ill-advised state proposals meant to prop-up Rick Perry for yet another presidential run.”


State Representative Carol Alvarado, HD-145:

“Today's decision by the Supreme Court  affirms my belief that Arizona overstepped its lawmaking authority in enacting an unconstitutional law that was nothing more than an intimidation tactic to insert fear upon specific groups of people.

While I do applaud the court in striking down key provisions of the Arizona law, the decision to uphold the portion that authorizes local law enforcement to check the immigration status of individuals they suspect are not in the United States legally could lead to racial profiling and other legal consequences.

Texas should not look to Arizona as a model of how to handle immigration reform.  The legal ramifications coupled with the impending litigation that is certain to occur is a fiscal burden Texas cannot afford. Immigration is a federal issue and states should not propose laws that undermine the federal government's exclusive authority.”


State Representative Trey Martinez Fischer, HD-116 and MALC Chairman:

“Today, the United States Supreme Court affirmed what MALC has said all along, ill-advised state action on immigration policy is unconstitutional. MALC applauds the Court for recognizing the role of immigration in the future of our nation and the need for the federal government to have clear authority on immigration matters. Most of Arizona's discriminatory S.B. 1070 is preempted by federal immigration law and state action is no substitute for comprehensive immigration reform.”

Enacted in 2010, Arizona's S.B. 1070 sought to intrude into the federal immigration policy by developing its own state immigration penalties and enforcement procedures. A District Court issued a preliminary injunction preventing four of its key provisions from taking effect, Sections 3, 5(C), 6, and 2(B). These sections created state misdemeanors for failure to comply with federal immigrant registration requirements and for undocumented immigrants to seek or engage in work. Further, the law sought to authorize state and local officers to arrest a person without a warrant if they have probable cause that the person is undocumented.

Regarding §2(B), which requires officers conducting a stop, detention, or arrest to verify the person's immigration status with the Federal Government, the Court held that “absent some showing that it has other consequences that are adverse to federal law and its objectives” preemption is not required at this moment. However, the Court made it clear that once implemented, Arizona may face additional preemption and constitutional challenges.

In its ruling, the Supreme Court states that “federal law makes a single sovereign responsible for maintaining a comprehensive and unified system to keep track of aliens within the Nation's borders,” that state law cannot conflict with or disrupt the intent of federal immigration policy, and that since “Congress has occupied the field (of immigration policy), even complementary state regulation is impermissible.”


About Author

Katherine Haenschen

Katherine Haenschen is a PhD candidate at the University of Texas, where she studies political participation on digital media. She previously managed successful candidate, issue, voter registration, and GOTV campaigns in Central Texas. She is also a fan of UCONN women's basketball and breakfast tacos.


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