The U.S. Supreme Court’s mixed ruling on Arizona’s controversial immigration law is getting a mixed reaction in South Florida.
The nation’s highest court struck down three important provisions of Arizona’s law Monday, but upheld the requirement that police check the immigration status of anyone they reasonably suspect is not in the U.S. legally.
Senator Marco Rubio of Florida emphasized that Arizona has a unique situation, and that its Mexican border problem is only secondarily about immigration.
“It's primarily about criminality, it's about drug running and gun running, and even human trafficking across the border. And they're just fed up that the federal government isn’t doing its job,” Rubio said during an appearance on WNBC in New York to promote his new book. “I think they have a constitutional right to act as a state to address that.”
But outside the Freedom Tower in downtown Miami, there was a much different reaction from the Florida Immigrant Coalition, which led a rally of immigrants and advocates.
Participants held a banner that said “Stop Racial Profiling,” and one man held a sign that called Monday’s decision a “Supreme mistake.”
“Police should be exclusively focused on public safety and well-being, and the epidemic that exists on racial profiling with or without Arizona copycat bills is real and is unconstitutional,” said Maria Rodriguez, the executive director of the Florida Immigrant Coalition.
The organization said in a statement that the Supreme Court spoke out of both sides of its mouth by declaring that states cannot take away the federal government’s immigration enforcement role, while letting the “show me your papers” provision of Arizona’s law stay on the books.
"The Supreme Court hasn't completely decided if it wants to be on the right side of history," Rodriguez said in a statement. "But at least it didn't allow the politicians that preach hate and support Jim Crow's cousin, Juan Crow, to completely trample on the Constitution."
Rodriguez noted that it took decades for the Supreme Court to decide that Jim Crow was wrong.
“We will continue fighting anti-immigrant, anti-American and pro-racial profiling laws with full confidence that our courts will come to their senses,” she said.
Latina business and community leader Annette Taddeo said she was outraged by the decision to leave the “show me your papers” part of Arizona’s law intact.
“This key part of the law encourages racial profiling by law enforcement and leaves both legal and undocumented residents vulnerable to harassment and violence. While it was an important step for the Hispanic community to have the United States Supreme Court review this immigration statute, today’s ruling only serves to underscore the pressing need for Congress to pass comprehensive, bipartisan immigration reform,” said Taddeo, a Democrat who ran for Congress in Miami-Dade in 2008.
Rubio, who has been getting significant attention for his position on immigration within the Republican Party, said he supports Arizona’s right to put its law in place, but said he doesn’t think other states should be doing the same.
“I don’t think it's a national model. I think the better approach is for the federal government to enforce our immigration laws and to reform our immigration system so that it reflects the needs of the 21st century,” he said.