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Despite ruling, General Assembly could craft new immigration law

The North Carolina General Assembly was understandably quite interested in the Supreme Court's highly important ruling in the case involving Arizona's controversial immigration law. In the past, the legislative body has indicated that it was going to postpone comprehensive state immigration rules until the court's decision gave it guidance on what measures would be permitted under the Constitution.

Now that the court's opinion has been released, some in the General Assembly have signaled their readiness to begin crafting immigration legislation. Those who favor stricter state immigration policies have chosen to look for the silver lining in the Supreme Court's ruling, which invalidated three out of four provisions in the Arizona law. Rep. Harry Warren optimistically observed that by upholding one aspect of the law, the Supreme Court allowed room for states to lay down some tougher laws.

In its lengthy opinion, however, the court noted that the one remaining provision has the potential for abuse and could be struck down if it is applied improperly. That measure gives law enforcement in Arizona the authority to demand immigration paperwork of those they believe are in the country illegally. Opponents of the law aver that it could lead police to profile people based on their race.

The framework of any immigration legislation that may be passed by the General Assembly remains unclear, however. The body adjourned last week, so it may be some time before we see what legislators have in mind. But the important point to note is that the Supreme Court's ruling has not dampened some legislators' enthusiasm for more rigorous immigration law here in North Carolina.

Source: The Charlotte Observer, "N.C. has mixed reactions to immigration ruling," Jim Morrill and Carmen Cusido, June 26, 2012.

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