The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Arizona could enforce a state law punishing employers for hiring illegal immigrants.
The federal government is responsible for enacting and enforcing immigration laws. Recently, states charged the government with failing to control the flow of immigrant into the U.S. The Supreme Court ruling means states could pass laws on immigration.
In the first three months of this year, 26 states passed laws on immigration. One law in Maryland permits illegal immigrants to pay lower in-state tuition rates at public colleges. A law in Utah created a temporary guest worker program. Most laws target and penalize the employers of illegal immigrants.
The most controversial laws give police the power to check on the immigration status of people they stop.
Arizona passed the first law. Federal courts have halted its enforcement. The Supreme Court is expected to rule on the case sometime in the future.
Advocates worry about the influence of local politics. Some of the laws reflect opposition to President Obama or anti-immigrant sentiment. Some employers are concerned they will lose their undocumented workers.
Immigration will be important in the 2012 presidential election.