/ Modified apr 22, 2012 3:21 p.m.

AZ Week: SB 1070 Heads to Supreme Court

Pearce predicts victory; Grijalva fears 'difficult time' if it's upheld


Two key protagonists in the issue of Arizona going its own way on immigration reform remain at extreme odds on the law's needs and effects.

Russell Pearce (below left), who as a Republican state senator wrote and sponsored SB 1070, and U.S. Rep. Raúl Grijalva, D-Ariz., presented their views for Friday's Arizona Week broadcast.

alt text "How long are you going to talk about securing the border and protecting the American people? How long?" Pearce asked in pressing his view of the need for the law. "I'm just tired of hat malfeasance or misfeasance on the part of government not doing their job."

alt text Grijalva (right) was as strongly adamant on the opposite side.

"The people in this state that are opposed to it, and particularly the Latino community, to them this issue is personal ... ," he said. "If (the Supreme Court) makes SB 1070 the law of the land, then I think we're in for a difficult time on a social, societal level."

The Arizona Legislature passed SB 1070 in 2010 and Gov. Jan Brewer signed it into law as the state's response to what Republicans said was federal inability or unwillingness to deal with the issue of illegal immigration. Arizona, where many sections of the border with Mexico are loosely monitored, is affected disproportionately by the issue.

The federal government sued Arizona over the law, and parts of it were put on hold in U.S. District Court in Phoenix. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco upheld that ruling, and the state went to the U.S. Supreme Court, which will hear arguments Wednesday.

Pearce, who was recalled last year in a special election in which his sponsorship of the legislation was an issue, predicted that the Supreme Court will uphold the law as constitutional.

Grijalva said such a ruling will have a dire impact on the structure of society and will usurp the federal government's sovereign authority to control immigration, foreign relations and other issues.

Two legal experts also weighed in on the case for Arizona Week. Both were members of a team led by former University of Arizona Law Professor Gabriel "Jack" Chin that wrote a lengthy analysis of the legislation last year, laying out the fundamental legal and constitutional issues. Key among them, both said, is the issue of federal vs. state sovereignty, known as preemption. Read the analysis here.

alt text "The preemption issue here is, I think, a really complicated issue," said Carissa Byrne Hessick (left), a law professor at Arizona State University's Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law. "It's a question that underlies each of the four provisions" of the law on which a federal judge in Phoenix placed a hold.

"The strength of that argument for the United States, I think, sort of ebbs and flows depending on which of the sections they're talking about," she said. "The United States has a very strong argument ... in the registration section of SB 1070."

That is the section requiring state and local law-enforcement officers in Arizona to determine if people they question from other countries have registered with the federal government under federal immigrations rules.

Toni Massaro, regents professor in the UA's James E. Rogers College of Law, said she thinks the Supreme Court's justices will lean heavily on arguments about preemption. The court in recent years has considered several preemption cases, usually deciding in favor of the federal government, Massaro said.

The Supreme Court is expected to issue its decision on SB 1070 before its current term expires at the end of June.

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