Can State Immigration Laws Avoid Unconstitutionality?


As Arizona, Utah, and other states pass their own version of immigration-control laws, legal scholars tell the Associated Press that because immigration is enforced by the federal government, and any state attempting to tell the federal government how to do that is stepping into potentially unconstitutional territory.

While Utah’s law may still be overturned because it usurps federal authority, the state did narrow its law significantly and made it not as “blatantly unconstitutional” by trying to fix two other issues the courts have taken with Arizona’s law, said Arizona State University law Prof. Paul Bender. Utah eliminated of a clause found in the Arizona law that would compel police to check the citizenship status of anyone who they have “reasonable suspicion” to believe is in the country illegally — whether a crime has been committed or not. Because police would have been forced to determine immediately whether a person was potentially illegal, racial profiling was almost guaranteed, Bender said.

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