U.S. Supreme Court Decides Immigrant Case

Monday morning the justices ruled on the Arizona vs. United States case.

US Supreme Court Building

The high court upheld parts of Arizona’s strict law targeting illegal immigrants, but said the federal government has the ultimate authority to decide who will be held on immigration charges and deported.   The justices said Arizona’s police can stop, question and briefly detain immigrants if officers have reason to believe they are in the country illegally. This was seen as a key part of the state’s law. But the justices said the police have limited authority. They must check with federal immigration agents before deciding to hold the suspects. The justices also blocked parts of Arizona’s SB 1070 that would have made it a state crime for illegal immigrants to fail to carry documents or to seek work.

The court’s decision appears to give states such as Arizona a quite limited role in enforcing the laws against illegal immigrants. Their police can notify federal agents if they have a suspect in custody, but they cannot keep them in a county jail on state charges.

“The Supreme Court’s decision to invalidate most portions of Arizona’s SB1070 is an important victory for fair-minded Americans. Although the most odious part of the law, the “show me your papers” provision, was not enjoined, we take heart in the reaffirmation by the Court that we cannot have a patchwork system of 50 different state immigration laws.  To any politician who supports laws like SB1070, we say this: We will remain vigilant, we will be in the streets protesting and we will be at the ballot box voting. SEIU members in Minnesota, and across the country, share a deep-seated commitment to defeating any legislator willing to put anti-immigrant, draconian laws on the books – today’s ruling is a reminder of why that commitment is important,” said SEIU MN Local 26 President Javier Morillo.

On a key point, the court agreed that only the federal government should regulate immigration. The court also left the door open to future legal challenges, which SEIU and other plaintiffs in other lawsuits against SB 1070 are pursuing.

SEIU International Secretary-Treasurer Eliseo Medina

SEIU International Secretary-Treasurer Eliseo Medina

SEIU International Secretary-Treasurer Eliseo Medina responded to the court’s ruling:“Today the Supreme Court agreed with us-that only the federal government should regulate immigration and that states do not have the right to create a fifty state patchwork of immigration laws.  But today is not a good day for justice in America. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the most egregious section of this discriminatory law that defies the words etched in stone across the front of the august court building: ‘Equal Justice Under the Law.”

Medina said SEIU will mobilize voters to ensure that politicians who write such discriminatory laws do not win election.“This ruling makes clear that our campaign to mobilize Latino voters and communities of color to organize and grow our electoral power is an absolute necessity. On November 6, we will be heard at the ballot box.”

Other Key Facts include:

  • A report by the Immigration Policy Center and Center for American Progress showed that if all undocumented workers in Arizona were given a path to citizenship, it could increase employment 7.7 percent and increase tax revenue by $1.86 billion.
  • The report also showed that if every undocumented worker left the state of Arizona, it would decrease total employment by 17.2 percent.
  • Thus, the state’s economy would decrease by $48.8 billion.
Here is a brief overview of the other major case of interest to SEIU that the court is weighing: Health reform

SEIU Minnesota members worked tirelessly on behalf of all Minnesotans and played a critical role in the original passage of the Affordable Care Act. Their strong advocacy has, two years later, meant we’ve seen Americans of all ages and backgrounds now have greater access to affordable health coverage. However the court rules on the question of whether Congress overstepped its power in requiring virtually every American to buy health insurance, it could set important limits for future lawmakers. There will almost certainly be some message for Congress about what the limits of its powers are. If the court strikes down the law,  it will lay the ground to establish new limits.

Regardless, when it comes to our healthcare, we all want the same things: to be able to afford the care we need, to know we won’t be bossed around by insurance companies, and to have the freedom to make the right healthcare decisions for ourselves and our families. The healthcare law does just that and we are here to support it.

Affordable Care Act: Key Facts

  • Works for women, children, seniors – everyone. More than 86 million Americans received preventive care such as mammograms and colonoscopies for free in 2011.
  • Works for young adults: 2.5 million young adults are now insured because of the new health care law.
  • Works for older Americans: More than 5.1 million Medicare beneficiaries saved more than $3.2 billion on prescription drugs because of the new health care law.

Works for those with pre-existing conditions: More than 129 million Americans will not be denied coverage again because of the law.  Works for small businesses: A growing number of businesses offering health care coverage are taking advantage of tax credits available under the law.

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