Release Date: June 25, 2012
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The U.S. Supreme Court has taken the "remarkable" step and upheld the single most controversial provision of the Arizona immigration law, giving law enforcement officials the right to verify immigration status of anyone reasonably suspected to be an unauthorized immigrant, according to Rick T. Su, an expert on immigration law and associate professor at the University at Buffalo Law School.
But while many will likely fear that this ruling will lead to stricter immigration laws, Su says the reality will be different.
"If history is any guide, it is likely that few states will actually carry through with these enforcement mandates," says Su, who has published several articles on the controversial Arizona immigration law and been interviewed on the case numerous times in recent months. "Contrary to common belief, state effort to regulate immigration is hardly unprecedented. Indeed, the last two comprehensive federal immigration reforms in 1986 and 1996 were both preceded by an avalanche of state regulation on immigration.
"What that history shows us is, however, that while states have been quite effective in using their regulatory powers to shape the national debate on immigration and prod for federal reforms, when they are actually in a position to carry through in earnest on the immigration laws that they enact, there is almost never any interest in doing so."
Instead of leading to tighter restrictions on immigration in other states, according to Su, Monday's Supreme Court ruling will reignite the national debate on immigration. The real meaningful changes to immigration, if any, will follow from the Arizona State Law, but will probably be determined more by subsequent Supreme Court rulings than the direction or intention of the Arizona law.
"State immigration laws often leave their most lasting legacy on the federal immigration reforms that follow," Su says. "But aside from the political impact of state laws like Arizona's S.B. 1070, and the recent Supreme Court decision on its constitutionality, it is very unlikely that states will actually put the necessary effort and resources into enforcing the laws that they fight so hard in court to preserve.
"The next round of this immigration controversy will be in the halls of Congress and the national stage."
Su is available for media interviews at 716-834-0865.
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