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Supreme Court to make big decisions on immigration policy

The United States Supreme Court is set to make some of the country's most crucial decisions of recent history concerning immigration law in the United States. The High Court will hear an appeal from the state of Arizona, which has instituted highly controversial immigration policy that was challenged and blocked by the federal government.

In part, the law at issue requires police officers to ask for proof of citizenship during traffic stops if they suspect the person could be in the country illegally. Many states have followed suit with similar policies, adding to the politically-charged controversy. These states include Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, South Carolina and Utah, all of which are facing challenges in lower federal courts.

The Justice Department sued and blocked Arizona from enforcing key provisions to their immigration law earlier this year. The department alleges that the provisions violated the federal government's authority to oversee immigration enforcement.

The U.S. Solicitor General explained that immigration is to be handled at the federal level so that illegal immigrants throughout the country are treated with a uniform level of fairness and respect.

The main provisions of the Arizona law that are being challenged give local police the power to ask for immigration papers during traffic stops and attempt to prevent people from living in the state or seeking work without the proper documentation.

Proponents for the laws say some states are especially burdened financially by illegal immigrants and they should be able to use their own resources to crack down on the issue. Opponents argue that the new laws are unnecessarily strict and promote racial profiling.

The Supreme Court is set to hear the case of Arizona v. United States in April, and a decision will likely be made by late June. This will be a very important case to follow.

Source: USA Today, "High court will examine state immigration laws," Joan Biskupic, Dec. 13, 2011

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