Arizona dairy farmers, who rely heavily on immigrant labor, now face another obstacle in keeping their work force intact. According to a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday, it’s OK for police officers in Arizona to check the immigration status of the people they have stopped.
It appears from the ruling that police can stop, question and briefly detain immigrants if they believe the persons are in the country illegally. However, they must check with federal immigration agents before deciding who to hold. Federal agents will have ultimate authority on who to deport.
Traffic stops by police officers have been a tricky proposition in the past, as this article from Dairy Herd Management points out. The article describes a situation in western Kansas where immigrant workers were detained, which ended up depriving one dairy of some key employees.
The Arizona measure at the center of the Supreme Court decision on Monday was signed into law in 2010, but has been on hold pending the outcome of legal challenges.
The Obama administration sued Arizona over the law, and that is how it ended up in front of the Supreme Court.
While the Obama administration lost on one count, it won on others.
Other parts of the law, including a provision that made it a state crime for illegal immigrants to seek work, were struck down by the Supreme Court.
Indeed, the ruling gave both sides something to cheer about. Read more.
The fact that both sides are claiming victory shows how uncertain the immigration debate has become -- and makes a person wonder if any kind of resolution was actually achieved on Monday.
The Supreme Court's decision highlights the need for continued efforts to reform federal immigration laws, according to the National Milk Producers Federation.
“We hope that this decision will create enough momentum to have Congressional action rather than having more of the state anti-immigration laws,” said Jaime Castaneda, senior vice president for strategic initiatives and trade policy at NMPF.