Senate Democrats are pushing new legislation aimed at nullifying Arizona’s controversial immigration law — just in case the Supreme Court, which hears the case Wednesday, upholds the policy.
The proposal, announced Tuesday by Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., would stand virtually no chance of passing in the Republican-controlled House. But it marks the latest preemptive challenge by Democrats to a high-stakes Supreme Court decision.
The immigration case arrives at the high court Wednesday just weeks after the justices heard arguments in the multi-state challenge to the federal health care overhaul. Though the justices are not expected to rule in that case until summer, President Obama had cautioned the “unelected” judges against overturning his landmark domestic policy accomplishment — claiming such a move would be “unprecedented.”
Schumer’s fallback option on the Arizona immigration case holds a similar message. If the high court upholds the law, the congressional proposal would be a direct rebuke to that decision.
“Immigration has not and never has been an area where states are able to exercise independent authority,” Schumer said Tuesday at a Capitol Hill hearing, where he announced he would introduce the proposal should the Supreme Court “ignore” the “plain and unambiguous statements of congressional intent” and uphold the Arizona law.
He said the proposal would only allow states to arrest illegal immigrants if they are operating under an “explicit agreement” with Washington and are being supervised by federal officials. Plus he said the proposal would preempt state governments from enacting their own employment verification laws.
“States like Arizona and Alabama will no longer be able to get away with saying they’re simply helping the federal government … to enforce the law when they are really writing their own laws and knowingly deploying untrained officers with the mission of arresting anyone and everyone who might fit the preconceived profile of an illegal immigrant.”
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