Following the Supreme Court’s ruling Monday on Arizona’s controversial immigration law, Attorney General Eric Holder said he “remains concerned” about a section of the law requiring officers to verify the immigration status of anyone suspected to be an illegal immigrant.
Holder said in a statement that the department will “closely monitor” the impact of S.B. 1070 to ensure it does not serve to discriminate against Latinos or other minorities.
“While I am pleased the Court confirmed the serious constitutional questions the government raised regarding Section 2, I remain concerned about the impact of Section 2,” he said. Section 2 “requires law enforcement officials to verify the immigration status of any person lawfully stopped or detained when they have reason to suspect that the person is here unlawfully,” according Holder’s statement.
The Attorney General called the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the legality of Section 2 “not a license to engage in racial profiling.”
While Section 2 remains, several other portions of the law were struck down in the high court’s ruling on Monday. Section 3 of the controversial law makes it a state crime to be in the country without proper authorization. The court ruled this provision preempted and declared it unenforceable. Section 5(c), also overturned, would make it a state crime for illegal immigrants to apply for jobs. Finally, Section 6 would authorize law enforcement officials to arrest without a warrant any individual, so long as law enforcement officials have probable cause. This section was also struck down.
“Today’s ruling appropriately bars the State of Arizona from effectively criminalizing unlawful status in the state and confirms the federal government’s exclusive authority to regulate in the area of immigration,” Holder said.
Immigration reform has become a heated election-year topic. Two weeks ago, President Barack Obama issued an executive order to allow younger, undocumented immigrants to apply for temporary citizenship and work permits. The move provoked criticism from Republican officials and political pundits, who called Obama’s decision a “political” move and a “short-term fix.”
In his statement, Holder also asserted the department will not be distracted from traditional law enforcement priorities.
He said the verification provision will not “impair local policing efforts and discourage crime victims, including children of non-citizens, victims of domestic violence, and asylum seekers, from reporting abuses and crimes out of fear of detention or deportation.”