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Supreme Court Renders Split Decision on Arizona Immigration Law

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo

“Today’s decision underscores the need for a President who will lead on this critical issue and work in a bipartisan fashion to pursue a national immigration strategy. President Obama has failed to provide any leadership on immigration. This represents yet another broken promise by this President. I believe that each state has the duty — and the right — to secure our borders and preserve the rule of law, particularly when the federal government has failed to meet its responsibilities. As Candidate Obama, he promised to present an immigration plan during his first year in office. But 4 years later, we are still waiting.”

During the primaries, Romney said Arizona is “a model” for the nation when it comes to immigration. But while many have interpreted that to mean a strong endorsement for S.B. 1070 from the former Massachusetts governor, the Romney campaign has said he was referring to the state’s e-verify system to check employment eligibility, not the more controversial law on detention of suspected illegal immigrants.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said the decision striking down three of the law’s four major provisions shows that the Obama administration was right to challenge it in court.

“I am greatly concerned that the provision putting American citizens in danger of being detained by police unless they carry their immigration papers at all times will lead to a system of racial profiling,” he said. “This is a strong reminder that ultimately, the responsibility for fixing our nation’s broken immigration system lies with Congress.”

Reid also called it “disturbing” that Romney called the law a “model.”

“Laws that legalize discrimination are not compatible with our nation’s ideals and traditions of equal rights, and the idea that such an unconstitutional law should serve as a ‘model’ for national reform is far outside the American mainstream,” Reid said.

“This decision tells us that states cannot take the law into their own hands and makes it clear that the only real solution to immigration reform is a comprehensive federal law,” said Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.).

Arizona’s two Republican Senators, Jon Kyl and John McCain, issued a joint statement saying they want to fully review the decision.

“The Arizona law was born out of the state’s frustration with the burdens that illegal immigration and continued drug smuggling impose on its schools, hospitals, criminal justice system and fragile desert environment, and an administration that chooses to set enforcement policies based on a political agenda, not the laws as written by Congress,” they wrote. “We will continue our efforts on behalf of the citizens of Arizona to secure our southern border. We believe Arizonans are better served when state and federal officials work as partners to protect our citizens rather than as litigants in a courtroom.”

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) also declared victory, saying the court had upheld “the heart” of the law.

“Today’s decision by the U.S. Supreme Court is a victory for the rule of law. It is also a victory for the 10th Amendment and all Americans who believe in the inherent right and responsibility of states to defend their citizens,” she said.

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