Supreme Court Decision Spotlights the Need for Congressional Action

July 2, 2012

The following statement is from Donald J. Borut, executive director of the National League of Cities responding to today's Supreme Court's decision on Arizona SB 1070.

"Today's Court ruling affirms the supremacy of federal immigration law and squarely puts the primary responsibility for fixing the nation's broken immigration system on the President and Congress. The emerging patchwork of state laws is unacceptable and not a solution.

"Immigration is an issue that touches every community in our nation. And in many communities, it is unfortunately a divisive force made worse by the nation's poorly performing immigration system. While today's Court decision struck down several provisions of the law, we remain concerned that today's ruling left intact a provision of the law that requires local police officers to check the immigration status of individuals they suspect to be here illegally.

"To protect public safety, local governments must maintain working ties to immigrant communities. The effect of laws such as SB 1070 is that immigrants - whether they are naturalized citizens, lawful permanent residents, visa holders, or undocumented individuals - will become deeply distrustful of local law enforcement officials. Such distrust will have long-term negative consequences on the ability of local governments nationwide to protect the health and safety of all residents within their jurisdictions by putting local police officers in an untenable position of either acting in an unconstitutional manner or violating state law.

"The nation needs a functioning immigration system that works for all residents and conforms to the highest ideals of the nation's founding. It should be structured to expand our nation's science and cultural resources and strengthen our national economies and our local communities. That's why cities and towns continue to urge Congress to enact comprehensive immigration reform."

Specifically, NLC supports a comprehensive reform effort that:

Provides greater border security and enforcement;

Recognizes the human and civil rights of both citizens and on-citizens;

Strengthens penalties against employers who knowingly hire undocumented workers;

Creates a program for the admission of temporary workers based on the needs of the economy and allowing for qualifying for legal permanent residency;

Provides adequate fiscal support for city and state governments that are disproportionately shouldering the costs of the current broken immigration system; and

Establishes a process where the millions of undocumented immigrants currently living in the US can earn legalized status if they qualify.
The National League of Cities is dedicated to helping city leaders build better communities. NLC is a resource and advocate for 19,000 cities, towns and villages, representing more than 218 million Americans.