Immigration

The U.S. Supreme Court: Health Care, Immigration, Juvenile Justice and More

Jim Wallis

Jim Wallis

Today, in a long and complicated ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act. This is an important victory for millions of uninsured people in our country and ultimately a triumph of the common good. Children, young adults, and families will have access to basic health care, adding security and stability to their lives.

While I believe the decision is reason to celebrate, it doesn’t mean that this legislation is somehow the flawless will of God; it is an important step in expanding health care coverage and reducing long term costs, but it still is not perfect and more work is yet to be done.

Many Christian organizations and people of faith were involved in advocating for expanded insurance coverage, specifically for low-income and vulnerable people. And that’s what we can never forget: our involvement in the world of politics is always based in and motivated by the way that it affects the lives of real people, and especially poor people.

This last week, I’ve watched the endless political pre-coverage of the Supreme Court decision, and I was struck first by the poor quality of the questions being asked. Now that the decision has been made, the pontification is just as bad. We need to be focused on those who are left out and left behind, not who is up or down in politics and the polls.

But It’s a Dry Hate: The Human Spirit of Arizona Will Not Be Broken

Jonathan Gibby/Getty Images

Protesters opposed to Arizona's Immigration Law SB 1070 rally for immigrant rights. Jonathan Gibby/Getty Images

Even at 10 p.m., the dry heat caused the collapse of multiple people of faith gathered in a candlelight vigil outside Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s infamous tent city jail on Saturday evening. Earlier in the day, nearly 120 miles due south of Phoenix, the bodies of three immigrants who died of heat stroke were found. In one of those cases of tragic death, the man who collapsed was Guatemalan and his pregnant wife sat by his side.

Arizona continues to lead the way in the border humanitarian crisis and with immigrant rights violations. As a humanitarian, ally, and advocate, I came to the migrant justice movement with the belief that the U.S. immigration system and border policies were merely broken, but I am convinced now that these violations of human dignity are the symptoms of systemic racism targeted at immigrants.

The system is not broken, it is meant to break people.

The Politics of Immigration

 Ivone Guillen / Sojourners

Outside the Supreme Court as SB 1070 decision handed down, Ivone Guillen / Sojourners

Both sides have been spinning and claiming victory in Monday’s Supreme Court ruling on Arizona’s now infamous immigration legislation SB 1070. Not surprisingly the Court ruled on the side of federal supremacy, striking down three out of four measures in the Arizona legislation, but upholding the right of local law enforcement to demand “papers” if they believe someone is undocumented.

Since the 2008 failure to move comprehensive immigration reform and last year’s disappointment on the Dream Act, the immigration reform movement has had trouble getting any “air-time” in a country that is rightfully concerned about financial recession. However, the 2012 election and a strategically placed Hispanic electorate in key swing states has candidates talking about immigration anew since the GOP primaries.

There has for some time been a larger strategy at play here that I will bluntly call “evil.” 

North Carolina: Don't Follow Arizona

Supreme Court, Ivone Guillen / Sojourners

Supreme Court, Ivone Guillen / Sojourners

The recent ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court should put to rest any notion of North Carolina trying to enact an Arizona- or Alabama-style immigration bill. While we remain concerned that the ruling could leave the door open for legalized racial profiling, the Court has made clear that immigration policy and enforcement should be left up to the federal government.

States and localities are rightly turning away from these laws as divisive, costly, and ineffective. Instead, they’re looking for common-sense approaches that uphold our nation’s values and move us forward together. That means national immigration policy reform that creates accountability and a pathway to citizenship. It means laws that promote public safety and uphold due process and equal justice. And it means integrating new Americans into our economic engine and social fabric, including through English-language learning. Increasing numbers of states are rejecting divisive laws, and voters are rejecting politicians that promote them.

The Supreme Court, Racial Profiling, and Brewer’s Hobbled Law

Supreme Court, Ivone Guillen / Sojourners

Supreme Court, Ivone Guillen / Sojourners

Brewer’s law had four legs. Now it has one—a lame one. The Supreme Court’s ruling was not a vindication of Brewer, rather it issued a death sentence for an unjust law. The law is not dead yet, but it may as well be a dead man walking. 

Now, all eyes turn toward Congress. 

Our U.S. Immigration system is still broken and something must be done. The Supreme Court has made it clear, that action must come from Congress. Now is the time for comprehensive immigration reform. Now is the time to declare, in concert with the Evangelical Immigration Table and the thousands of people who have signed the Statement of Principles for Immigration Reform, released two weeks ago today: “We call for a bipartisan solution on immigration that:

  •  Respects the God-given dignity of every person
  •  Protects the unity of the immediate family
  •  Respects the rule of law
  •  Guarantees secure national borders 
  •  Ensures fairness to taxpayers
  •  Establishes a path toward legal status and/or citizenship for those who qualify and who wish to become permanent residents”

Following SCOTUS Decision, Where Are We On Immigration Reform?

For CNN, Allison Brennan writes:

"After two years of protests, boycotts and lawsuits over Arizona's immigration law, Monday's Supreme Court decision leaves the state of immigration reform almost unchanged with states frustrated and Congress avoiding the debate. "I would guess [Congress] won't touch this with a 10-foot pole until after they come back after the election," Charles H. Kuck, managing partner at Kuck Immigration Partners in Atlanta, told CNN."

Read her full analysis here

Reactions to Supreme Court Ruling on Anti-Immigrant Law (PHOTO & VIDEO)

Ivone Guillen / Sojourners

Opponents of SB 1070 stand outside the Supreme Court as the decision is handed down. Ivone Guillen / Sojourners

Today, as I stood on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court eagerly following Arizona’s SB 1070 ruling, I had the opportunity to interview some advocates of the immigration reform movement. 

The message that seemed to resonate among those present was that athough three of the four provisions were struck down, the fourth —the so called “show me your papers” clause — is very harmful to communities. It allows racial profiling on the basis of appearance. Even though there might be limits on how this last provision is implemented, those who feel they have the legal authority to enforce laws might feel compelled to use this piece as an excuse to discriminate.

Supreme Courts Stops Some of Arizona’s Attack on Immigrants

Supreme Court image, Mesut Dogan / Shutterstock.com

Supreme Court image, Mesut Dogan / Shutterstock.com

Today the Supreme Court struck down three central provisions of Arizona’s controversial anti-immigrant law, SB 1070. Attempts by Arizona to force immigrants to carry identification, create legal penalties for undocumented workers seeking employment, or detain individuals solely based on suspicions about their immigration status were ruled to interfere with the federal government’s right and responsibility to set immigration policy.

The Court let one section, known as 2(B), to stand, which allows law enforcement to check the immigration status of individuals apprehended for non-immigration offenses, if law enforcement has a “reasonable suspicion” that the person violated U.S. immigration laws in entering the country. (Read more on concerns about the racial profiling measure HERE.)

SCOTUS Strikes Down Key Provisions in Arizona's Anti-Immigrant Legislation

The Supreme Court on Monday struck down large portions of the controversial Arizona anti-immigrant law SB 1070.

In the decision—with Justice Sonia Sotomayor in favor—the Supreme Court struck down three major pieces of the legislation including provisions that made it illegal for immigrants to fail to carry immigration papers and a crime for undocumented immigrants to seek employment. The court also struck down the ability of police officers to arrest someone based solely on suspicion of legal status.

The most divisive provision of the law—requiring state and local police to inquire about a person's legal status when stopped in process of another offense—was upheld. 

This is breaking news. Please check back for updates and analysis. 

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