The U.S. Constitution grants Congress the power to create and manage federal immigration legislation, whereas each state reserves the right to enact and administer its policies regarding immigrants’ rights for access to public services or education, as well as other procedures relevant to immigration within their borders. In summary, Arizona maintains a significant degree of authority over its laws concerning immigration in addition to what the federal government has already established.
Federal immigration laws
The United States began regulating immigration soon after it won independence from Great Britain. At first, the laws tended to favor Europeans, but the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 opened doors to immigrants from other parts of the world, establishing quotas for each country.
The federal government has sole authority to regulate immigration at the borders and within U.S. territory and is responsible for issuing visas, granting asylum and naturalization, determining refugee status and enforcing deportations. The federal government also sets policies on illegal immigration and deportation procedures that all states must adhere to.
Arizona immigration laws
In 2010, Governor Jan Brewer of Arizona established Senate Bill 1070 into law, taking the state’s immigration policy to a heightened level that extended beyond federal regulations. While the Supreme Court has authorized some facets as constitutional, other parts have faced its disapprobation.
For example, the Supreme Court judges deemed it unconstitutional for the police to arrest individuals without a warrant if they believe they are deportable immigrants. They also struck down Section 5(C) of S.B. 1070, which made it illegal for an immigrant to seek or engage in any work in Arizona, and Section 3, which made failure to carry federal registration papers a state crime.
Only Section 2(B) of S.B. 1070 survived, even though it remains to be a controversial law. This section states that if a police officer has reasonable suspicion to believe an individual is in Arizona unlawfully, they may verify the person’s immigration status with federal authorities before release.
Ultimately, immigration laws are primarily a federal responsibility, although states may set specific rules and procedures to supplement the national regulations. In the case of Arizona, the Supreme Court has declared some of their stricter policies regarding immigrants unconstitutional. As such, it is important to be aware of both state and federal guidelines when dealing with immigration matters.