WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court's decision on Arizona's attempt to legislate immigration is likely to have far-reaching effects on other states' efforts to enact similar legislation, experts said Monday.
The decision is "a resounding defeat for the legislators of Arizona and other parts of the United States who think that immigration can be regulated at the state level," said Charles H. Kuck, managing partner at Kuck Immigration Partners in Atlanta.
He predicted Monday's decision will affect Alabama, South Carolina, Indiana, Utah as well as Arizona. The court's message to the states is the same, he said: "This is a federal issue."
The big question now, he said, is what Congress will do to fix the immigration problem. But he doesn't expect any immediate movement. "I would guess they won't touch this with a 10-foot pole until after they come back after the election."
"They're going to have to really almost go back to square one and really rethink their approach and how much time and money they want to put into these types of statutes," said Dan Kowalski, editor-in-chief of Bender's Immigration Bulletin and an immigration lawyer at the Fowler Law Firm in Austin, Texas.
"Number one: They're going to have to spend a lot of money on lawyers to try to craft something that they think can withstand Supreme Court scrutiny; Number two: they're going to have to budget money for further litigation because, no matter what they propose on a state level, it's going to be challenged. That costs a lot of money. So they're going to have to figure out if it's worth it."
That gets to a fundamental question of what the purpose is behind such an immigration law, he said. "Does it make economic sense for the states to try to clamp down on immigration or is it merely an expression of some sort of cultural distress or worry about change in demographics. So that's going to have to be on the minds of legislators at every state level."