Illegal Immigration: Arizona v. United States Case

If the federal government is not effectively fulfilling one of its constitutional responsibilities, whether a state or group of states is allowed to take independent steps? The above is the crux of the case of Arizona v. United States, 567 U.S., 2012.

It concerns the contradictory problem of illegal immigration. Arizona was the first of several states that have passed legislation aimed at eradicating the illegal immigration. Legal provisions allowing police to check the immigration status of persons detained for any reason including on suspicion of illegal stay on the territory of the United States caused the most fervent disputes. What is more, prior to clarifying the status of the person looking like the illegal immigrant, Arizona police have the right to keep him or her in custody.

The US Supreme Court declared unconstitutional a number of key provisions of the rigid immigration law passed in Arizona in 2010 to help the police in the fight against illegal immigration. At the same time, the Court refused to cancel the most controversial point of the law authorizing the state police to check the immigration status of people they stop for other reasons (Liptak, 2012). Announcing the decision, one of the judges of the Supreme Court, Anthony Kennedy stated that in spite of the dissatisfaction of Arizona with immigration problems, the state cannot carry out “policy, which is contrary to federal law” (Arizona v. United States, 2012). Judges rejected three provisions of Arizona law. One of them is an offense to the search for work by immigrants who do not have permission. The second one requires immigrants to carry registration documents. The third allows the police to arrest any immigrant who, in their point of view, might be subject to deportation. For the recognition of these three provisions unconstitutional, five of the nine members of the Supreme Court voted. The rest of the judges defended the law as a whole or some of its key provisions.

It is also very important to consider the impact of the financial burden that immigrants impose on the budget of the host state. Especially clearly this is manifested when the developed countries are located close or even border with the less developed states. A typical example is the United States and Mexico. In the US, every tenth citizen of the country is an immigrant and over half of them came from Latin America, especially from Mexico. This close proximity results in the influx of illegal immigrants. In its turn, it requires financial expenditures or for financial support, either for deportation (Hall & Feldmeier, 2012). However, it is impossible to have different legislation in different states.

Personally, I agree with the majority opinion and believe that it is just a preventative measure of document verification in order to establish the legality of staying in the US. Consequently, there is nothing illegal. Nevertheless, the procedure of the verification is of great importance. If it proceeds quietly and politely, I do not think this is something unpleasant or illegal. Thus, I believe that the majority opinion is the most in line with the Constitution as, in this case, it guarantees the protection of the population of Arizona.


Arizona v. United States, 567 U.S. (2012).

Hall, D., & Feldmeier, J. P. (2012). Constitutional law: Governmental powers and individual freedoms (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

Liptak, A. (2012). Blocking Parts of Arizona Law, Justices Allow Its Centerpiece. The New York Times. Web.

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