Monday, July 2, 2012

"Show Me Your Papers" - Recent Updates to Arizona's Immigration Law

Glenn M. Cooper, Esq.
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday June 25, 2012 delivered its decision on the Arizona immigration law.  The Court upheld the “show me your papers” provision of the Arizona immigration law requiring Arizona state law enforcement officers to determine the immigration status of anyone they stop or arrest if they have reason to suspect that the individual might be in the country illegally.  However, the court also decided that those same Arizona state law enforcement officers cannot detain or arrest anyone based solely on immigration violations.  Furthermore, the Court ruled that states cannot enact state laws making it a state crime for one to be in illegal immigration status (as such matters come under the jurisdiction of Federal authorities). 

The Court struck down the Arizona immigration law provision making it a state crime for illegal immigrants to seek or hold jobs without proper documentation. The Court also struck down the Arizona immigration law provision making it a crime for immigrants to to fail to register with the federal government.  Additionally the Court took issue with state law enforcement officers detaining individuals for lack of immigration documentation.   

While states such as Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina that have already enacted their own state immigration laws may use the Supreme Court decision upholding the "show me your papers" provision to propel their state immigration laws which are themselves being litigated in various courts, the state of Florida seems inclined to stay on the sideline and not enact its own state immigration law given that the previous effort in Tallahassee failed and given the strong lobby of the pro-immigration community in Florida. 

On a separate yet related note, the Obama administration recently announced that it would not deport certain foreign students who are in the U.S.without lawful immigration status who were brought to the U.S. as young children and who have bright futures ahead of them as future graduates and professionals. 

Glenn Cooper is a partner in GrayRobinson's Miami and Fort Lauderdale offices whose practice focuses on immigration law.  He can be reached at

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