The ruling will also amplify advocates’ demands that the federal government halt two Department of Homeland Security immigration programs. One, known as Secure Communities, sends fingerprints of anyone arrested to federal immigration officials for possible detention, while a second authorizes local police to enforce federal immigration laws.
Congress is not likely to take up comprehensive immigration reform this year, but interest groups on both sides used the high court decision to call for legislation and drive home broader political messages.
“Even if the Obama administration refuses to enforce most immigration laws, states have the power to deter and discourage illegal aliens from settling or remaining within their jurisdictions,” Dan Stein, president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, said in a statement. “It is now up to Congress to hold the Obama administration accountable for carrying out the nation’s immigration laws in a manner that protects the interests of the American people in all 50 states.”
Deepak Bhargava, executive director of the low-income minority advocacy group Center for Community Change, warned that a future president — he stopped short of naming presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney — could reverse the Obama administration’s recent decision to halt the deportation of illegal immigrants who came to the United States as children.