Media coverage of the Supreme Court's healthcare decision somewhat overshadowed analysis of the Court's decision on Arizona's immigration law. However, state legislatures are wasting no time in reacting to the ruling. In fact, the Supreme Court's immigration decision could soon impact immigrants in Wisconsin who face various criminal charges.
Given that the Supreme Court upheld a key provision of Arizona's immigration law, similar legislation could soon be reintroduced in the Wisconsin legislature. During the legislature's last session, a bill was introduced that would have required those accused of criminal wrongdoing to prove that they are residing in the country legally.
The bill was not even given a public hearing, but could be reintroduced and supported now that the Supreme Court has upheld the right of Arizona law enforcement to require documentation from those criminally accused in that state.
Unfortunately, the immigration decision has already inspired some problematic behavior in Wisconsin. According to the director of Voces De La Frontera, which is an immigrants rights organization, cases of racial profiling have increased in Milwaukee since the decision was handed down.
Regardless of whether or not an Arizona-type bill is reintroduced in the Wisconsin legislature, it is important that law enforcement, judges and the public in general are aware that, absent such a law or special circumstances, individuals cannot be ordered to prove their legality and that racial profiling is illegal. Even the Wisconsin law which allowed for collection of demographic data regarding those who are stopped for alleged traffic violations has been repealed.
Whether individuals are residing in the country legally or not, everyone has rights within the criminal justice system. Those who believe that their rights are being infringed upon should consult with a criminal defense attorney to explore their options.
Source: Milwaukee Public Radio, "Supreme Court Ruling on Immigration Could Have Ramifications for Wisconsin," LaToya Dennis, June 26, 2012