WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Supreme Court said on Monday that it would decide whether Arizona’s tough law cracking down on illegal immigrants can take effect, a case arising from the fierce national debate on immigration policy ahead of next year’s presidential election.
The high court agreed to review a ruling that put on hold the key parts of the law signed by Republican Governor Jan Brewer in April 2010. The case has been closely watched because several other states have adopted similar laws.
The law requires police to check the immigration status of anyone they detained and suspected of being in the nation illegally. Other parts require immigrants to carry their papers at all times and ban people without proper documents from soliciting for work in public places.
The justices are likely to hear arguments in the case in April, with a ruling due by July. It could produce another contentious election-year ruling for the court, which also will decide President Barack Obama’s healthcare overhaul law.
About 11 million illegal immigrants are believed to be in the United States. Immigration has become a major political issue, especially in states such as Arizona that border Mexico, ahead of the presidential and other U.S. elections in November 2012.
Obama and other opponents, including many Democrats and civil rights groups, have criticized the law and said it could lead to harassment of Hispanic-Americans.
The Obama administration challenged the law on the grounds the federal government has exclusive control over immigration enforcement. A federal judge and a U.S. appeals courts agreed, putting on hold the disputed provisions.
The law’s supporters, including many Republicans, said states need to take aggressive action because the federal government has failed to do enough to stop the flow of illegal immigrants into the country.
(Reporting by James Vicini, Editing by Jackie Frank)