Arizona v. United States, No. 11–182.

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtJustice KENNEDY delivered the opinion of the Court.
Citation132 S.Ct. 2492,183 L.Ed.2d 351,567 U.S. 387
Docket NumberNo. 11–182.
Decision Date25 June 2012
Parties ARIZONA, et al., Petitioners v. UNITED STATES.

567 U.S. 387
132 S.Ct.
2492
183 L.Ed.2d 351

ARIZONA, et al., Petitioners
v.
UNITED STATES.

No. 11–182.

Supreme Court of the United States

Argued April 25, 2012.
Decided June 25, 2012.


Paul D. Clement, Washington, DC, for Petitioners.

Donald B. Verrilli, Jr., Solicitor General, for Respondent.

Joseph Sciarrotta, Jr., General Counsel, Office of Governor, Janice K. Brewer, Phoenix, AZ, John J. Bouma, Robert A. Henry, Kelly Kszywienski, Snell & Wilmer LLP, Phoenix, AZ, Paul D. Clement, Counsel of Record, Viet D. Dinh, H. Christopher Bartolomucci, Nicholas J. Nelson, Bancroft PLLC, Washington, DC, for Petitioners.

Justice KENNEDY delivered the opinion of the Court.

567 U.S. 392

To address pressing issues related to the large number of aliens within its borders who do not have a lawful right to

567 U.S. 393

be in this country, the State of Arizona in 2010 enacted a statute called the Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act. The law is often referred to as S.B. 1070, the version introduced in the State Senate. See also H.R. 2162, 49th Leg., 2d Reg. Sess. (2010) (amending S. 1070). Its stated purpose is to "discourage and deter the unlawful entry and presence of aliens and economic activity by persons unlawfully present in the United States." Note following Ariz.Rev.Stat. Ann. § 11–1051 (West 2012). The law's provisions establish an official state policy of "attrition through enforcement." Ibid. The question before the Court is whether federal law preempts and renders invalid four separate provisions of the state law.

I

The United States filed this suit against Arizona, seeking to enjoin S.B. 1070 as preempted. Four provisions of the law are at issue here. Two create new state offenses. Section 3 makes failure to comply with federal alien-registration requirements a state misdemeanor. Ariz.Rev.Stat. Ann. § 13–1509 (West Supp.2011). Section 5, in relevant part,

567 U.S. 394

makes it a

132 S.Ct. 2498

misdemeanor for an unauthorized alien to seek or engage in work in the State; this provision is referred to as § 5(C). See § 13–2928(C). Two other provisions give specific arrest authority and investigative duties with respect to certain aliens to state and local law enforcement officers. Section 6 authorizes officers to arrest without a warrant a person "the officer has probable cause to believe ... has committed any public offense that makes the person removable from the United States." § 13–3883(A)(5). Section 2(B) provides that officers who conduct a stop, detention, or arrest must in some circumstances make efforts to verify the person's immigration status with the Federal Government. See § 11–1051(B) (West 2012).

The United States District Court for the District of Arizona issued a preliminary injunction preventing the four provisions at issue from taking effect. 703 F.Supp.2d 980, 1008 (2010). The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed. 641 F.3d 339, 366 (2011). It agreed that the United States had established a likelihood of success on its preemption claims. The Court of Appeals was unanimous in its conclusion that §§ 3 and 5(C) were likely preempted. Judge Bea dissented from the decision to uphold the preliminary injunction against §§ 2(B) and 6. This Court granted certiorari to resolve important questions concerning the interaction of state and federal power with respect to the law of immigration and alien status. 565 U.S. 1092, 132 S.Ct. 845, 181 L.Ed.2d 547 (2011).

II

A

The Government of the United States has broad, undoubted power over the subject of immigration and the status of aliens. See Toll v. Moreno, 458 U.S. 1, 10, 102 S.Ct. 2977, 73 L.Ed.2d 563 (1982) ; see generally S. Legomsky & C. Rodríguez, Immigration and Refugee Law and Policy 115–132 (5th ed. 2009). This authority rests, in part, on the National Government's constitutional power to "establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization

567 U.S. 395

," Art. I, § 8, cl. 4, and its inherent power as sovereign to control and conduct relations with foreign nations, see Toll, supra, at 10, 102 S.Ct. 2977 (citing United States v. Curtiss–Wright Export Corp., 299 U.S. 304, 318, 57 S.Ct. 216, 81 L.Ed. 255 (1936) ).

The federal power to determine immigration policy is well settled. Immigration policy can affect trade, investment, tourism, and diplomatic relations for the entire Nation, as well as the perceptions and expectations of aliens in this country who seek the full protection of its laws. See, e.g., Brief for United Mexican States as Amici Curiae; see also Harisiades v. Shaughnessy, 342 U.S. 580, 588–589, 72 S.Ct. 512, 96 L.Ed. 586 (1952). Perceived mistreatment of aliens in the United States may lead to harmful reciprocal treatment of American citizens abroad. See Brief for Madeleine K. Albright et al. as Amici Curiae 24–30.

It is fundamental that foreign countries concerned about the status, safety, and security of their nationals in the United States must be able to confer and communicate on this subject with one national sovereign, not the 50 separate States. See Chy Lung v. Freeman, 92 U.S. 275, 279–280, 23 L.Ed. 550 (1876) ; see also The Federalist No. 3, p. 39 (C. Rossiter ed. 2003) (J. Jay) (observing that federal power would be necessary in part because "bordering States ... under the impulse of sudden irritation, and a quick sense of apparent interest or injury" might take action that would undermine foreign relations). This Court has reaffirmed that "[o]ne of the most important and delicate of all international relationships ... has to do with the protection of the just rights of

132 S.Ct. 2499

a country's own nationals when those nationals are in another country." Hines v. Davidowitz, 312 U.S. 52, 64, 61 S.Ct. 399, 85 L.Ed. 581 (1941).

Federal governance of immigration and alien status is extensive and complex. Congress has specified categories of aliens who may not be admitted to the United States. See 8 U.S.C. § 1182. Unlawful entry and unlawful reentry into the country are federal offenses. §§ 1325, 1326. Once here, aliens are required to register with the Federal Government

567 U.S. 396

and to carry proof of status on their person. See §§ 1301–1306. Failure to do so is a federal misdemeanor. §§ 1304(e), 1306(a). Federal law also authorizes States to deny noncitizens a range of public benefits, § 1622; and it imposes sanctions on employers who hire unauthorized workers, § 1324a.

Congress has specified which aliens may be removed from the United States and the procedures for doing so. Aliens may be removed if they were inadmissible at the time of entry, have been convicted of certain crimes, or meet other criteria set by federal law. See § 1227. Removal is a civil, not criminal, matter. A principal feature of the removal system is the broad discretion exercised by immigration officials. See Brief for Former Commissioners of the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service as Amici Curiae 8–13 (hereinafter Brief for Former INS Commissioners). Federal officials, as an initial matter, must decide whether it makes sense to pursue removal at all. If removal proceedings commence, aliens may seek asylum and other discretionary relief allowing them to remain in the country or at least to leave without formal removal. See § 1229a(c)(4); see also, e.g., §§ 1158 (asylum), 1229b (cancellation of removal), 1229c (voluntary departure).

Discretion in the enforcement of immigration law embraces immediate human concerns. Unauthorized workers trying to support their families, for example, likely pose less danger than alien smugglers or aliens who commit a serious crime. The equities of an individual case may turn on many factors, including whether the alien has children born in the United States, long ties to the community, or a record of distinguished military service. Some discretionary decisions involve policy choices that bear on this Nation's international relations. Returning an alien to his own country may be deemed inappropriate even where he has committed a removable offense or fails to meet the criteria for admission. The foreign state may be mired in civil war, complicit in political persecution, or enduring conditions that create a

567 U.S. 397

real risk that the alien or his family will be harmed upon return. The dynamic nature of relations with other countries requires the Executive Branch to ensure that enforcement policies are consistent with this Nation's foreign policy with respect to these and other realities.

Agencies in the Department of Homeland Security play a major role in enforcing the country's immigration laws. United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is responsible for determining the admissibility of aliens and securing the country's borders. See Dept. of Homeland Security, Office of Immigration Statistics, Immigration Enforcement Actions: 2010, p. 1 (2011). In 2010, CBP's Border Patrol apprehended almost half a million people. Id., at 3...

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    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
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    ...the Supreme Court's explanation that border states "bear[] many of the consequences of unlawful immigration," Arizona v. United States, 567 U.S. 387, 397 (2012), one would expect a "reasonable and reasonably explained" memo to mention the issue at least once, Prometheus, 141 S.Ct. at 1158. ......
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    ...of the United States has broad, undoubted power over the subject of immigration and the status of aliens[,]" Arizona v. United States , 567 U.S. 387, 394, 132 S.Ct. 2492, 183 L.Ed.2d 351 (2012), "subject to important constitutional limitations." Zadvydas v. Davis , 533 U.S. 678, 695, 121 S.......
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    ...Defendants cite in support of this argument, see United States v. Alabama , 691 F.3d 1269 (11th Cir. 2012) ; Arizona v. United States , 567 U.S. 387, 410, 132 S.Ct. 2492, 183 L.Ed.2d 351 (2012), are inapposite because they involved specific attempts by states to regulate immigration. As the......
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    ...a particularly strong claim for uniform, nationwide relief." Innovation Law Lab , 951 F.3d at 1094–95 ; see Arizona v. United States , 567 U.S. 387, 401, 132 S.Ct. 2492, 183 L.Ed.2d 351 (2012) (federal law contemplates a "comprehensive and unified" immigration policy); Trump I , 932 F.3d at......
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  • Texas v. Biden, 21-10806
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • December 13, 2021
    ...the Supreme Court's explanation that border states "bear[] many of the consequences of unlawful immigration," Arizona v. United States, 567 U.S. 387, 397 (2012), one would expect a "reasonable and reasonably explained" memo to mention the issue at least once, Prometheus, 141 S.Ct. at 1158. ......
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    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Southern District of Florida
    • November 9, 2018
    ...of the United States has broad, undoubted power over the subject of immigration and the status of aliens[,]" Arizona v. United States , 567 U.S. 387, 394, 132 S.Ct. 2492, 183 L.Ed.2d 351 (2012), "subject to important constitutional limitations." Zadvydas v. Davis , 533 U.S. 678, 695, 121 S.......
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    ...Defendants cite in support of this argument, see United States v. Alabama , 691 F.3d 1269 (11th Cir. 2012) ; Arizona v. United States , 567 U.S. 387, 410, 132 S.Ct. 2492, 183 L.Ed.2d 351 (2012), are inapposite because they involved specific attempts by states to regulate immigration. As the......
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