Joint Statement on The Supreme Court's Decision in Arizona Case

Supreme Court’s Arizona Immigration Decision Supports Federal Authority in Immigration But Potential for Racial Profiling Remains

A Joint Statement from HIAS Pennsylvania and the Jewish Community Relations Council on Behalf of the Greater Philadelphia Jewish Coalition on Immigration

We commend the decision today of the U.S. Supreme Court which struck down three of the four provisions of Arizona’s 1070 as unconstitutional.  The Court noted the congressional intent of having one unified federal policy, rather than separate state and local laws.  In a 5-3 decision authored by Justice Kennedy, the Court explains that “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.”

Judith Bernstein-Baker, Executive Director of HIAS Pennsylvania noted that “today’s decision is consistent with HIAS Pennsylvania’s view that we can’t have a patchwork of state laws in immigration; we are one nation, and immigrants have, since our founding, been a key source of national pride and renewal.” One troubling provision of the law, which permits police to check the immigration status of anyone whom they have reasonable suspicion to believe is undocumented, was left standing. However, the Court pointed out that any stops conducted by police must be consistent with federal and civil rights laws.  We stand strongly against this section of the law. It is difficult to imagine what factors would give rise to a “reasonable suspicion” that a person is an unauthorized immigrant, and therefore this standard can provide a legal cover to racial profiling. HIAS Pennsylvania hopes that the Pennsylvania Legislature heeds the Supreme Court decision and abandons its attempt to implement Arizona type legislation in the Commonwealth.

Prior to the Supreme Court decision, nearly 90 Jewish Organizations including HIAS Pennsylvania and the American Jewish Committee signed a letter initiated by HIAS national opposing state enforcement of immigration laws and calling for national immigration reform.  We understand that the current immigration system must be fixed so that families can stay together and immigrants can become part of our society, without fear or marginalization.  

The Greater Philadelphia Jewish Coalition on Immigration is co-chaired by HIAS Pennsylvania and the Jewish Community Relations Council and comprises numerous Jewish organizations and synagogues in the region.  To read the statements by other Coalition partners national representatives please see the HIAS, Inc., AJC and the ADL statements.  The Coalition works to ensure Pennsylvania remains a welcoming state to immigrants.  For more information about the Coalition go to


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