Court’s Immigration Ruling Leaves Many Questions Unanswered for Police


Arizona's police chiefs and county sheriffs hoped the U.S. Supreme Court would settle their long-running debate on what role, if any, they should play in immigration enforcement. Instead, reports the Associated Press, yesterday’s ruling left them with more questions than answers. How long must officers wait for federal authorities to respond when they encounter someone illegal, especially given President Obama's new policy to deport only dangerous criminals and repeat offenders? If they release a person too soon, are they exposing themselves to a lawsuit from residents who accuse them of failing to enforce the law?

How do they avoid being sued for racial profiling? “We're going to get sued if we do. We're going to get sued if we don't. That's a terrible position to put law enforcement officers in,” said Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, whose territory covers much of southern Arizona and who has long argued against his state's requirement that local law enforcement be forced to ask about the legal status of anyone suspected of being in the U.S. illegally. “It's uncharted territory,” said Tony Estrada, sheriff of Santa Cruz County on the state's southern border with Mexico. “It's going to be challenging. It's a complicated issue, and it's not going to be solved by this particular decision.”

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