Immigration decision puts issue on the front burner

Monday’s decision by the U.S. Supreme Courts striking down most of Arizona’s controversial immigration law virtually ensures that immigration will be a major issue in this year’s presidential campaign.

Most of the Arizona law targeting illegal immigrants was struck down, including a provision that allowed police to arrest suspected illegal aliens in the state without warrants.

But the Supreme Court allowed the most controversial aspect of the law to stand. That provision requires local police to check the immigration status of people stopped for other reasons, if they have a reasonable suspicion the person is in the United States illegally. Critics say this part of the law can lead to racial profiling.

Many immigration activists see the high court’s ruling as a victory with a likely impact on November’s presidential election.

“The Supreme Court had their say today. On November the 6th, Latinos will have the final word,” said Eliseo Medina, who is with the Service Employees International Union in Washington D.C. “We will in fact say this law is wrong. It will be overturned by the power of our votes.”

Both sides of the debate took something from the high court’s ruling, and analysts say that could energize activists across the political spectrum ahead of the election.

Quinnipiac University pollster Peter Brown says the high court’s decision will have short- and long-term implications.

“What the Supreme Court ruling on immigration does is keep the issue front and center in the political debate,” he said. “And in the long-term, it means that it is likely that a large number or many state legislatures will take up similar statutes, at least the parts that have been approved by the Supreme Court.”

Five others states have enacted laws similar to the Arizona statute and were awaiting the Supreme Court’s ruling.

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