June 28 2012 09:15 AM

In a 5-3 ruling, the Supreme Court deemed that S.B. 1070 interfered with the federal government's role as the sole authority on immigration law.

by Amanda Smith, Associate Editor, Hoard's Dairyman

On a decent number of dairy operations, migrant workers comprise a portion or the majority of the labor force. These are people we have come to depend on day to day to successfully run our dairies.

At issue in Arizona et al. versus the United States were four provisions of an Arizona statute known as S.B. 1070. Arizona enacted the statute in 2010 to address issues related to the number of illegal aliens within its borders. The question the Supreme Court tackled was whether federal law overrode and rendered invalid fours pieces of the law.

Two of the provisions created new state offenses related to immigration. Section 3 made failure to comply with federal alien registration requirements a misdemeanor. Section 5 made it a misdemeanor for unauthorized persons to seek or engage in work in Arizona.

Two other provisions gave specific arrest authority and investigative duties to state and local law enforcement officials. Section 6 authorized officers to arrest, without a warrant, a person they had probable cause to believe committed a public offense that made them removable from the U.S. Section 2(B) provided that officers conducting a stop or arrest must make efforts to verify a person's immigration status under certain circumstances.

In the court's ruling, the first three provisions in contention were found to conflict with federal law and Congress' overriding power to control immigration policy. The fourth portion, the court determined, was brought before the court too soon; the Arizona courts had not yet had an opportunity to interpret it, and it had not been shown to conflict with federal immigration policy.

This decision leaves significantly less room for state-by-state enforcement of immigration policy. The take away from this decision: the responsibility is on Congress to act on what both parties should agree is a broken immigration system.

National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) President, Jerry Kozak, noted "The mixed high court ruling…fully illustrates how, regardless of which path is chosen, the few options for immigration reform remain controversial and divisive. At the same time, these developments also show how critically necessary it is to resolve the immigration policy conundrum, especially for farmers and others employers concerned with maintaining and recruiting a workforce."

What are your thoughts on how our country should fix this issue?