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Transition 2012

A guide to foreign policy and the 2012 U.S. presidential transition.

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Immigration Update: Romney, Obama React to Arizona Case

by Newsteam Staff
June 26, 2012

People protest against the Arizona immigration law in front of U.S. Supreme Court in Washington June 25, 2012 (Yuri Gripas/Courtesy Reuters). People protest against the Arizona immigration law in front of U.S. Supreme Court in Washington June 25, 2012 (Yuri Gripas/Courtesy Reuters).


Presidential candidates and pundits reacted quickly to Monday’s split decision from the U.S. Supreme Court that struck down most of Arizona’s immigration law but upheld one controversial provision that requires police to check the immigration status during routine traffic stops or arrests.

President Barack Obama praised the court’s decision but said the move underscores the need for comprehensive immigration reform at the federal level and that he considered the remaining provision worrisome. “What this decision makes unmistakably clear is that Congress must act on comprehensive immigration reform,” he said. “A patchwork  of state laws is not a solution to our broken immigration system — it’s part of the problem. At the same time, I remain concerned about the practical impact of the remaining provision of the Arizona law that requires local law enforcement officials to check the immigration status of anyone they even suspect to be here illegally.”

Presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney criticized President Obama’s leadership on immigration but said little about the Supreme Court decision itself. “Today’s decision underscores the need for a president who will lead on this critical issue and work in a bipartisan fashion to pursue a national immigration strategy,” Romney said in a statement Monday. “I believe that each state has the duty — and the right–to secure our borders and preserve the rule of law, particularly when the federal government has failed to meet its responsibilities.”

The Washington Post‘s Chris Cillizza writes that ruling enforces that Romney should try to keep focus on the economy — the number one issue for voters — and stay away from immigration. “The simple political reality on immigration for Romney goes like this: the Republican base is vehemently opposed to illegal immigration or a path to citizenship in any way shape or form but to adopt that policy would be to essentially write off the growing Hispanic community for years to come,” he said.

The Houston Chronicle‘s Dan Freedman says the Monday ruling is likely to provide a boost for the Obama campaign. “The ruling strikes down some of what immigration advocates considered to be the law’s more onerous parts,” Freedman writes. “But in upholding the part that requires police to determine the immigration status of suspected illegals they arrest, the court handed the Obama re-election team a rallying cry for wooing Latino voters in the 2012 election.”

For more on the candidates’ stances, check out CFR’s Issue Tracker on The Candidates and Immigration.

Suggested Other Reading:

This CFR Backgrounder explains the current immigration debate, its recent developments and the political polarization that surrounds it.

A study by the National Foundation for American Policy says that while skilled foreign nationals hoping to come to the United States to work would boost the economy, their wait times and prospects for getting a green card are getting worse instead of better.

— Gayle S. Putrich, Contributing Editor

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