U.S. Supreme Court Declines to Reinstate Arizona Law Criminalizing the Harbor of Illegal Immigrants


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Arizona’s 2010 Immigration Law has sparked controversy ever since it was enacted. As a federal appeals lawyer explains, the U.S. Supreme Court has weighed in on a particularly controversial provision that made it illegal to harbor illegal immigrants.

The Background of Arizona’s Immigration Reform
Arizona has been a bellwether state in terms of immigration reform. In 2010, the Arizona legislature passed a sweeping immigration package, which was then signed into law by Governor Jan Brewer. As a Texas federal appeals lawyer explains, among other things, the law provided criminal penalties for individuals who were caught harboring illegal immigrants in their homes. Additionally, the reforms made it illegal to entice an immigrant to cross the border illegally with the promise of safe harbor.

The Latest U.S. Supreme Court Ruling
As an appeals attorney can explain, Arizona’s law was then challenged on various Constitutional grounds. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit struck down the illegal safe harbor provision. The state then appealed that ruling all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. The U.S. Supreme Court essentially left that lower court’s ruling intact by refusing to hear the case. Appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court are not automatically given a hearing. The Court has wide discretion to hear or reject cases without giving them a full hearing.

Other Recent Rulings Made by the U.S. Supreme Court
While the high court has struck down other provisions of the Arizona law, they have also curtailed other state’s immigration laws. For example, the Court struck down provisions of immigration laws in Pennsylvania and Texas related to mandatory reporting of illegal immigrants. Those laws required tenants to disclose their status in a way that would be reported to immigration authorities and then penalized landlords who rented to them.


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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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