By Pilar Pedraza
KWCH 12 Eyewitness News
10:23 PM CDT, June 25, 2012
“My concern is that other states are going to try to copy this law,” said Emira Palacios of the Sunflower Community Action group, when she heard about Monday’sU.S. Supreme Courtruling. In a split decision the high court struck down several portions of the controversial Arizona immigration law passed in May of 2010. But it still allows Arizona law enforcement to check the immigration status of anyone suspected of being in the country illegally.
The ruling is getting mixed reviews here at home.
“We're going to be stopped and were going to be questioned,” said Wichitan Patty Córdoba of her fears after hearing about the ruling.
Monday's 5-3U.S. Supreme Courtruling has Kansans like Córdoba worried about their communities. The rule requires law enforcement in Arizona to check the immigration status of those they stop for other reasons.
“A lot of, in this case, Hispanics, are going to be afraid to report any criminal activity against them just because they are going to be afraid of looking for the police's help,” said Córdoba.
Others think the idea isn't necessarily a bad one.
“When the officers stop someone and ask for proof of citizenship, I think they ought to ask that of everyone that they stop, not just certain individuals,” said Wichitan Carolyn Brand.
“It was a big victory for Arizona,” smiled Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, one of the key architects of the Arizona law. At this time it does not affect Kansas. But, if Kobach has his way, it will.
“Adopt the Arizona section, word for word,” Kobach said of his desires for this state. “And require Kansas law enforcement to be a very important partner in immigration law enforcement.”
Community activists say it's racist.
“To me, if you look brown, if you speak Spanish, they have basis to believe that you are undocumented,” said Emira Palacios with Sunflower Community Action. “So they are going to find an excuse to stop you and then they are going to ask.”
While this is not currently law in Kansas, both sides say the next step is in the hands of the state legislature. Three times in the last decade Kansas legislators have taken up the issue but not passed any laws. It remains to be seen what will happen in the next legislative session.
“Basically, if the Kansas legislature wants to duplicate the Arizona provision that was approved today concerning arrests of illegal aliens,” Kobach said, “they can do it and they have absolute certainty that the Supreme Court would uphold the law if there was a challenge.”
“It's up to us to really talk to our representatives and legislators,” said Palacios.
Meanwhile five other states have already followed Arizona's lead.
This wasn't the only lawsuit against the Arizona legislation working its way through the court system.
Civil rights advocates involved in another case say they're likely to ask a judge to block enforcement until their case can be heard as well. The Justice Department has set up a hotline for the public to report potential civil rights concerns regarding the Arizona law that requires police to check the immigration status of those they stop for other reasons.
The hotline phone number is 1-855-353-1010. The email is: SB1070@usdoj.gov.
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