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
"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
"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
"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.