April 24 - The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether Arizona's immigration laws stray too far into the federal government's authority. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.
A clash over immigration law will go before the U.S. Supreme Court Wednesday, pitting the state of Arizona against U.S. President Barack Obama in a case with election-year political ramifications. In its second-biggest case this term, the court -- fresh from hearing the Obama healthcare overhaul case -- will consider whether a tough Arizona immigration crackdown strayed too far into the federal government's powers. A decision against Arizona would deal a blow to Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, who has said the government should drop its challenge of the law. (SOUNDBITE) (English) BEN WINOGRAD, AN ATTORNEY FOR THE AMERICAN IMMIGRATION COUNCIL, SAYING: "The balance of power between the federal government and the state government is a big issue currently in American politics, and it will probably be a featured issue in the presidential campaigns. With respect to immigration, allowing states to be the primary enforcers of federal immigration law would from a civil rights perspective have huge ramifications. All of a sudden, every traffic stop that is conducted by a local officer and involves someone who arguably looks or sounds like an immigrant could result in an extended detention and even possibly incarceration." A pro-Arizona decision would be a legal and political setback for Obama, who has criticized the state's law and vowed to push for immigration legislation if re-elected on November 6. Dissatisfied with what it considered inadequate federal enforcement, Arizona, which shares its southern border with Mexico, passed an controversial immigration law two years ago. The Arizona law requires police to check the immigration status of anyone detained and suspected of being in the country illegally. Other parts of the Arizona law require immigrants to carry their papers at all times; ban illegal immigrants from soliciting for work in public places; and allows police to arrest immigrants without a warrant if an officer believes they have committed a crime that would make them deportable. Deborah Lutterbeck, Reuters