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Arizonans take stock of Supreme Court hearing on state immigration law

On the same day the Arizona immigration law had its day in court – the US Supreme Court – the state's residents held rallies both for and against it. For critics, the issue is racial profiling. For the high court, it's federal vs. state authority. 

Protesters march past the Maricopa County Sheriff's jail in protest against Arizona's illegal immigration law, SB 1070, Wednesday in Phoenix. In Washington, US Supreme Court justices heard oral arguments in a case testing the state's prerogative to enact its own law dealing with immigration enforcement, which the Obama administration says is a federal duty.

Matt York/AP

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Arizonans marched and protested Wednesday, some in support of their state's tough immigration law and others against it, even as news reports emerged about how the law had fared during its test at the US Supreme Court, 2,300 miles away.

The justices' line of questioning suggested at least some sympathy for Arizona's position, but both sides nonetheless expressed optimism that the court will side with their views. 

On the law's day of reckoning, about 500 people held a rally and march in Phoenix to protest it. SB 1070, as the law is known, makes it a crime to live and work in Arizona illegally. 

"I'm hopeful that the Supreme Court will strike it down,” says George De Luna, who demonstrated against the measure with his teenage daughter, Teresa. “I don't like SB 1070; I don't like the fact that it can single people out just because of the color of their skin and the suspicion that they might be illegal.”

Meanwhile, dozens of tea party supporters gathered at the state Capitol to express their continued support for SB 1070. Supporters don't buy the argument that the law invites racial profiling, saying it simply gives local and state law enforcement agencies another tool to combat illegal immigration, something Arizona contends the US government has failed to do efficiently. The issue before the high court involves not the question of racial profiling but rather of federal preemption – federal law superseding state law.

“Arizona has a direct responsibility to its citizens to enforce the law, whether the federal government likes it or not,” former state Sen. Russell Pearce (R), who attended the oral arguments in Washington, told reporters after the hearing.


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