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Lankford: SCOTUS Leaves Immigration Up in the Air


Location: Washington, DC

Representative James Lankford (R-OK) issued the following statement after the Supreme Court released its decision today on Arizona's enforcement of immigration law (SB 1070).

"Each person is created in the image of God, but each person is also a citizen of a certain country," said Representative Lankford. "The question of citizenship is one of the most controversial issues of our nation, and it is crucial that we follow current law and clarify any law that is ambiguous. For years the federal government has failed to enforce immigration laws, leaving the states in a quandary. In their frustration to enforce the law, states have done what they can to deal with the problem of illegal immigration in the absence of adequate federal action.

In the decision, the Ninth Circuit's decision was reversed in part and affirmed in part. There were four different sections of this law in the Supreme Court's decision. The Court announced that three of the four provisions of the decisions were pre-empted by federal law and were thus struck down. Section 2(B) of the state's bill, giving Arizona police officers the authority to assess whether someone may be in this country illegally, was sent back to the Ninth Circuit.

"The Supreme Court's decision today to throw out three of the four provisions and send one back to the Ninth Circuit does not negate the need for a clear federal immigration policy," said Lankford. "When the federal government leaves the enforcement of immigration policy up to the states, they should have every constitutionally appropriate tool at their disposal to do their job."

During the Supreme Court's oral arguments last April, the discussion centered on Arizona's "stop and question" law, where local and state law enforcement officials can stop and question drivers they think may be illegal immigrants.

"I do not believe section 2(B) of Arizona's law works in every case in every state," Lankford continued. "But states should have the ability to determine their own means of consistent enforcement, not just the federal government. Unlike Oklahoma, the border issue in Arizona is perhaps the most dangerous of any state. But the State of Oklahoma should be allowed to maintain order and security within the state's borders with the assumption of cooperation, not interference by the federal government.

"The federal and state security authorities should work seamlessly together for the benefit of the people," Representative Lankford concluded.

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