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Originally published Sunday, April 1, 2012 at 10:23 AM

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U.S. Supreme Court should overturn Arizona's anti-illegal-immigration law

The Supreme Court should reject Arizona's anti-illegal immigration law and send a cautionary message to states about overbearing immigration legislation.

Seattle Times Editorial

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THE U.S. Supreme Court should strike down four troubling provisions of Arizona's anti-illegal-immigration law. They conflict with federal laws and ought not become models for states grappling with illegal immigration.

The federal government has exclusive authority over immigration enforcement. One can debate the efficacy of federal efforts but Arizona's 2010 immigration law was a wrongheaded attempt to supersede federal law.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals blocked key provisions of the law, including requiring law enforcement to question people about their immigration status, ask for documentation and detain those without it. Arguments that this could lead to racial profiling are persuasive. The immigration status of people arrested would also have to be determined before they could be released.

The appeals court blocked other odious provisions, including making it a state crime for illegal immigrants to try to find work and allowing police to make arrests without warrants if they have probable cause to suspect individuals committed crimes that could make them deportable under federal law.

Placing the burden of immigration enforcement on local police is impractical and expensive. Hard-won relationships between law enforcement and immigrant communities would be damaged if Arizona's law becomes a model for other states.

The United States Conference of Mayors and the National League of Cities filed amicus briefs siding with the federal government. Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes and attorneys representing 40 other jurisdictions also rightly weighed in on Arizona v. United States.

The Supreme Court should reject Arizona's law.


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