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June 2012 Archives Minnesota Immigration, After the Supreme Court’s Arizona Decision

 The U.S. Supreme Court held this week that federal law preempts state attempts to regulate immigration. The ruling came in a highly-watched case, Arizona v. United States, in which the state of Arizona tried to criminalize civil violations such as being in the country without proper identification.

Arizona also tried to make it a state crime for undocumented immigrants to work in the state, or even to apply for a job. Under that provision of the Arizona law, lacking work authorization would not only carry immigration consequences. It would be a state crime.

The Supreme Court, however, struck down several such provisions of the Arizona law. It is not a state crime merely to be present in the U.S. as an undocumented person, because federal law preempts state law. The same is true of working, or seeking work, without proper authorization.

The Court also ruled against warrantless arrest by state law enforcement officers of people suspected, even with probable cause, of committing a deportable offense.

The Court left open the question of whether it is permissible for state law enforcement officials to check the immigration status of people who have already been detained on other grounds.

So, if you are an undocumented person, local police can still ask you for your papers – if you have been validly stopped for another reason. That is still the law, at least for now.

But the Supreme Court’s ruling reaffirms that it is not a state crime to be in the country illegally or to work here.

Minnesota is widely known as more welcoming place to immigrants than Arizona. But our state still has a long way to go to embrace the gift of cultural diversity that immigrant communities can bring.

In short, instead of patting itself on the back, Minnesota should keep reaching out to immigrants. The Supreme Court’s Arizona ruling does not really change the need in Minnesota to keep extending hospitality and respect for all people.

Source: “Court reaffirms there’s a good reason immigration is a federal responsibility,” MPR, Michele Garnett McKenzie, 6-27-12

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