How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

What the Supreme Court's SB 1070 decision settles - and what it doesn't

Photo by Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC

Protesters rally in Phoenix on July 29, 2010, the day SB 1070 was partly enacted with four provisions blocked.

Arizona v. United States has been decided by the U.S. Supreme Court, but this doesn't mean the legal battle over Arizona's SB 1070 is anywhere near over. In fact, the court didn't even address the law's most controversial aspect.

What the justices decided today is whether four contested sections of the 2010 anti-illegal immigration law encroached upon the federal government's ability to set immigration policy, and thus were preempted by federal law. This was the basis of the Obama administration's July 2010 legal challenge, filed shortly before the law took effect.

On the eve of its implementation, a federal judge in Phoenix issued a temporary injunction blocking SB 1070's four most controversial provisions. Today's decision marked the end of a long and costly appeal by the state of Arizona.

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Highlights from today's SB 1070 decision

Photo by Kitty Felde/KPCC

The crowd outside the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. as the court heard arguments on Arizona's SB 1070 April 25, 2012

It's been a very big news day with the U.S. Supreme Court announcing its decision on Arizona's SB 1070 this morning, and I've been posting updates directly to the KPCC website instead of here on Multi-American.

But I'd like to share what my colleagues and I have put together on the decision by now, which is quite a bit. In a nutshell, the justices decided to uphold the most controversial section of the law, while striking down three other provisions in question. There's more to come, but here are some highlights from our reporting and talk shows today so far:

Supreme Court upholds key provision of SB 1070, strikes down the rest Initial reporting on the court's decision, with a breakdown of which provisions of the law were struck down and upheld. The provision the justices upheld was Section 2(B), which empowers local police to check for immigration status if there is "reasonable suspicion" that someone is here illegally.

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A 'no brainer' or 'a shame'? Reactions to Obama's immigration move

As might be expected, President Obama's announcement that many qualifying young undocumented immigrants may be spared from deportation has inspired readers and listeners at KPCC to put in their two cents. Throughout station's home site and staff blogs, the comments have been pouring in from the left and right, quite literally.

Obama's plan involves allowing young people who arrived in the U.S. under age 16 and now under 30 to apply for deferred action, an administrative form of relief that would let them to stay legally in the United States, but not permanently. Those who qualify could also obtain work permits, but their cases would have to be reviewed and renewed every two years. It could affect hundreds of thousands of young people, but their long-term prospects remain uncertain.

Obama perhaps put it best himself in a speech at the White House this afternoon: "This is not amnesty. This is not immunity. This is not a path to citizenship. It is not a permanent fix."

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More reaction to California Dream Act from KPCC listeners

Photo by Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC

A student activist's t-shirt, March 2011

Last Friday I joined guest host David Lazarus of the Los Angeles Times on KPCC's AirTalk to discuss the California Dream Act, a package of two bills that would make it easier for undocumented college students to pay tuition.

One bill, AB 130, grants these students access to privately funded scholarships and was recently signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown. A second, more controversial and costlier measure known as AB 131 that would enable them to access state-funded tuition aid, like other students, is expected to reach the Senate floor for a vote this week. If approved by legislators, Brown is likely to sign it.

During the segment, David (filling in for Larry Mantle) and I listened to several callers' comments and answered their questions. But the comments and questions didn't end there. The segment generated dozens of comments posted to the show's website. Here are just a few of the thoughts shared by AirTalk listeners, unedited:

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From KPCC's AirTalk: Would you 'come out' if you were in Jose Antonio Vargas' shoes?

A growing movement among undocumented college students that involves "coming out" with their immigration status has now inspired the same from a well-known journalist, Pulitzer winner Jose Antonio Vargas. His confession that he is undocumented, published yesterday in the New York Times Magazine, has drawn intense reaction while attaching a white-collar identity to the debate over illegal immigration.

A segment on today's AirTalk show, hosted by the Los Angeles Times' David Lazarus (filling in for Larry Mantle), took up the Vargas story along with the broader coming-out movement. I joined David and other guests to talk about the movement, the risks involved in going public, and the proposed federal legislation known as the Dream Act, which would grant conditional legal status to qualifying youths brought here before age 16 if they go to college or join the military.

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