Local elected officials, immigration activists and others had mixed reactions to Mondays Supreme Court ruling that threw out key provisions of a controversial Arizona immigration law.
The court struck down three provisions but was unanimous in upholding the show me your papers requirement, which allows law enforcement officers to check immigration status.
Mecklenburg County uses both Secure Communities and another federal program, known as 287(g), to refer immigrants in the county illegally to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Five states Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, South Carolina and Utah have adopted variations on Arizonas law. Parts of those laws also are on hold pending the outcome of the Supreme Court case.
North Carolina lawmakers eager to toughen the states immigration laws remain committed to the effort, despite the ruling.
While Im disappointed that they didnt rule entirely for the law in Arizona, they didnt close the door completely, said Rep. Harry Warren, a Salisbury Republican who has led the House immigration efforts.
A special House panel tasked with examining the states immigration laws delayed taking action earlier this month, citing the Arizona case pending before the court. The legislature is unlikely to consider the issue before adjourning July 2.
But advocates for undocumented immigrants suggest the courts decision should serve as a warning to lawmakers.
I feel this is a clear message from the Supreme Court that policies like Arizona ... are an unlawful infringement on federal law, said Jess George, executive director of the Latin American Coalition in Charlotte. Even though its not exactly what we were hoping for, its a validation of what we believe.
Both Republicans in the runoff for the 9th District congressional seat applauded the high courts ruling.
Jim Pendergraph, a Mecklenburg County commissioner, said the part of the Arizona law that was upheld is similar to the so-called 287(g) program he introduced as Mecklenburg County sheriff.
That makes me happy that they left that standing, he said. Thats the only way a sheriff knows who the people in jail are. He chided the president for not having a broader immigration policy.
Former state Sen. Robert Pittenger called the ruling a victory for the American people.
President (Barack) Obamas losing streak before the Supreme Court continued, he said in a statement. The Court ruled that state and local police can conduct immigration checks when they have reason to believe that someone is in this country illegally. This is very important to maintaining safety, fighting crime and combating terrorism.
Local and statewide civil rights organizations said Monday the part of the law the high court left in place could serve as an invitation to racial profiling.
Anti-immigrant laws modeled after Arizonas undermine police work, harm businesses, threaten our most basic American values and are proving to be a failed experiment that we must not repeat here, Raul Pinto, racial justice attorney for the ACLU of North Carolina Legal Foundation, said in a statement.
U.S. Agriculture Department Secretary Tom Vilsack, in Charlotte Monday to tout renewable-energy initiatives, noted in an interview that the agriculture sector depends heavily on immigrant labor. At least 50 percent of the food Americans consume is picked, processed or packaged by immigrant hands, he said.
Vilsack criticized those who favor large-scale deportations. Shame on the people who use this to scare people for political advantage, he said. He said he favors comprehensive immigration reform that would involve securing the border, having immigrants pay taxes, learn English and gain the ability to work with a permit.
Such a process would allow an immigrant to qualify for citizenship down the road, without getting ahead of those who are already here legally, he said. The Associated Press and staff writers John Frank and Celeste Smith contributed to this report.