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Supreme Court ruling on Arizona law must lead to 'civil discourse' on illegal immigration

The Supreme Court ruling on Arizona law SB 1070 will let states help enforce federal immigration law through police checks on immigration status. This should create more federal-state cooperation in battling illegal immigration, especially in states hit hardest by such massive lawlessness.

Community members Leticia Ramirez, left, and Jovana Renteria watch the United States Supreme Court decision regarding Arizona's controversial immigration law, SB1070, come down at the Puente Movement offices June 25 in Phoenix.

Matt York/AP Photo

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A Supreme Court ruling on Arizona law SB 1070 puts a tight fence around a state’s ability to deal with illegal immigrants. But while asserting a preeminent federal role, the justices nonetheless gave some strong advice: The nation needs a “searching, thoughtful rational civic discourse” about immigration.

Indeed serious political discourse on this topic has been lacking even as many states experience an unfair and costly burden because of lax federal enforcement.

Now with this court decision, Washington must work more closely with the states and carefully tailor a joint responsibility for each state’s particular needs on immigration.

The court upholds the key part of Arizona law SB 1070 – one that mandates police check the immigration status of someone on suspicion of being in the United States illegally if the person is stopped for another reason.

If all states can now pass such a provision, that will help create more transparency about the extent of illegal immigration – as well as reveal how often the federal government simply looks the other way in upholding the immigration laws.

The nation needs more openness and accountability about this federal discretion. That will improve the “civic discourse” and possibly lead to a consensus on how to deal with the 11 million to 12 million illegal immigrants in the US.


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