CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — The U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Arizona's immigration law was met Monday with mixed reactions in Nevada, underscoring how the politically charged issue will remain a key campaign topic heading into the November election.
While Democrats mostly hailed the court's decision that struck down three components of the law, they focused concern over one provision left intact that requires police to check the immigration status of those they stop for other reasons.
The court struck down provisions requiring all immigrants to obtain or carry immigration registration papers; making it a state criminal offense for an illegal immigrant to seek work or hold a job; and allowing police to arrest suspected illegal immigrants without warrants.
Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval, who supported Arizona's right to enact its own immigration laws but said a similar law isn't needed in Nevada, said the high court's decision "makes it clear that the president and Congress must come together to reform our immigration status."
That sentiment was expressed by Republicans and Democrats alike.
"This is a strong reminder that ultimately, the responsibility of fixing our nation's broken immigration system lies with Congress," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.
In prepared remarks read on the Senate floor, Reid called the Arizona law "mean spirited" and said the court correctly struck down the bulk of the law.
But he and others said a fourth provision, the "show me your papers" provision requiring police to check the status of someone they suspect is not in the United States legally — could lead to racial profiling.
"As long as this provision remains, innocent American citizens are in danger of being detained by police unless they carry immigration papers with them at all times," said Reid, who supports the DREAM Act that has languished in Congress. It would create a pathway to citizenship for some children of illegal immigrants.
Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., locked in a tough U.S. Senate campaign against Republican Sen. Dean Heller, said Monday's ruling that upholds allowing officers to check a person's immigration status "will force even more people into the shadows."
Nevada's Latino community, now 25 percent of the state's electorate, will play a crucial role in the fall elections.
Heller has said he doesn't support the DREAM Act and has struggled to connect with Latino groups in southern Nevada. Heller did not comment Monday on the Supreme Court ruling, but his spokesman, Stewart Bybee, issued a statement when contacted by The Associated Press.
"States are frustrated with the federal government's reluctance to enforce existing laws," Bybee said. "Enforcing the laws and improving the processing of immigration applications would go a long way toward fixing the current immigration system and keeping states from acting on their own."