UC Riverside Scholar Analyzes Supreme Court Ruling on Immigration

Karthick Ramakrishnan is available to discuss impacts of court’s decision on Arizona law.

Karthick Ramakrishnan

Karthick Ramakrishnan

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — The U.S. Supreme Court struck down most provisions of Arizona’s controversial immigration law today. But the 5-3 ruling upheld SB 1070’s provision permitting police to check immigration status of anyone they detain or arrest if there is “reasonable suspicion” that an individual is in the United States illegally.

Karthick Ramakrishnan, associate professor of political science at the University of California, Riverside and a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C., has been researching immigration and public policy for seven years and is available to comment. He can be reached on his cell phone at (818) 305-4865.

“This opens up a new area for states to legislate on immigration enforcement. Many states that have been considering legislation on immigration enforcement have been taking a wait-and-see approach on this issue,” Ramakrishnan said. “The political climate has played an important role, but so have questions about the Arizona law’s constitutionality. After this decision, we can expect more states to seriously consider similar laws containing the provision that the Supreme Court just upheld.”

Additional prepared comments from Ramakrishnan:

What are the important individuals or groups that support the law? What are those opposed?

Some of the important individuals or groups supporting the law include the governors of Arizona and several other states; elected representatives (nearly all of whom are Republican); Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona; organizations like NumbersUSA and the Federation for Immigration Reform (FAIR); and Kris Kobach, who works for the legal arm of FAIR and claims credit for writing much of the legislation in Arizona, Alabama, and elsewhere.

Opposed to the law are California, Illinois, and several other states; elected representatives (nearly all Democrat); many police chiefs; several foreign governments; and organizations like the ACLU, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, and various labor unions, religious groups, and civil rights organizations.

How will this ruling (in either direction) affect elections this November?

Mitt Romney has declared that he would allow state laws like Arizona’s SB1070 to stand, and President Obama has opposed such laws.  Regardless of how the Supreme Court decides, if Romney continues to voice support for these laws, he will find it difficult to win Latino supporters.  A Fox News Latino poll in March showed Romney with only 14% support among Latinos, and he needs to improve his standing among that community, particularly to win states like Florida, Colorado, and Nevada.

If this law is upheld, are other states likely to pass similarly strict enforcement laws?

A favorable Supreme Court ruling would mean that immigration enforcement is not exclusive to the federal government, so you will inevitably see more state involvement.

Some states have already passed similar laws that are on hold—including Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, and Indiana—and a favorable Supreme Court ruling would make many of those laws immediately enforceable.  Based on my research, states where Republicans control the legislature and the governorship will be especially likely to pass similar laws in the future.

Read his full analysis.

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