US & Canada

Voices: Arizona Supreme Court decision

The US Supreme Court has backed checks on the immigration status of people stopped or arrested in Arizona, while striking down key parts of the law that have prompted fears of racial profiling.

Supporters and critics of the law share their reaction with the BBC Mundo's William Marquez.

Viridiana Hernandez, an undocumented student in Phoenix, Arizona

It is not a victory. The provision on reasonable suspicion is racist and makes me a target.

For them I meet the criteria of an undocumented immigrant because of my brown skin and the way I dress. My brother, who is citizen of the US, would also be suspicious.

I am a political activist who does canvassing and I go from door to door letting people know what these laws are all about.

They are fed up with a system that discriminates and we are not going to stop until we get people elected who will respect us and represent us.

Jon Feere, legal analyst, Center for Immigration Studies

There is no reason to conclude that section 2B (which allows law enforcement officers to request immigration status papers if they have a reasonable doubt) will include racial profiling.

The law specifically states that race cannot be used as a factor.

That makes it a pretty progressive law.

Anyway, we entrust our officers with the exercise of reasonable doubt every day in everything they do.

Israel Ortega, Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank

The thought that the law discriminates on a racial basis does not fit in with reality. An officer has to first stop a person for unusual, erratic or suspicious behaviour. Then they can request documents and this is the correct thing to do.

By striking down parts of the law, the Supreme Court is showing the federal government should be more responsible for who enters and who is deported from the country.

I hope President Obama will assume that leadership and take a definite path in immigration law matters is such a way that he may create incentives and more avenues for legal immigration.

Jorge-Mario Cabrera, Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights

This is shameful. It is a black day in history and for justice in this country.

The government did not argue the issue about racial profiling because they do exactly the same thing with their Safe Neighbourhood programme, which has led to the deportation of a million and a half people in the three years of Obama's administration.

With [President Obama's] change in policy toward young immigrants he has given some relief to the "dreamers", but how ironic that he is going to guarantee their safety one day and then allow their fathers and mothers to be deported the next.

Clarissa Martinez, National Council of La Raza

The decision is a mixed bag because it leaves some unfinished business.

It is good because it confirms how problematic this law was and it also signals to other states that this is not a green light for them to follow suit.

In fact, we are very pleased to know that 31 states have already rejected such laws as too costly, too impractical and too discriminatory.

For Latinos and those of us who can vote it is a clear call to action, to fight these laws in court and to participate in the political process. Voting is our defence. We must be engaged if we want to change these laws.

Maria Cardona, Democratic strategist

It was a huge decision for the government because it gives credibility to its arguments that states don't have the right to enforce federal immigration laws.

From a political stand point it puts Obama in an advantageous position from the Latino vote perspective. First, he took the law to task and Latinos were adamantly against it. Second, Romney is now in a very complicated box.

He was very clear during the primaries that he would veto the Dream Act and for making life so miserable for undocumented immigrants that they would self-deport. He even called the Arizona law a model for the nation.

Marshall Fitz, Center for American Progress, a left-leaning think thank

I have mixed feeling about the decision. On the one hand there was a strong opinion of the legal question of pre-emption. That is, we cannot have 50 different states adopting their own laws.

But the provision that was upheld is troublesome because we know that it will lead to racial profiling. The upside is that this provision could be struck down in the future with the lawsuits that are being brought against it. But it will take a while.

For now the federal government has the upper hand. By striking three-quarters of the law, the court has given the government broad discretionary authority to act on these matters.

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