Arizona Immigration Decision: Democrats Predict Political Change In State

While Republican architects of Arizona's immigration law are declaring victory following Monday's Supreme Court ruling, Arizona Democrats also are calling the decision a win in the state's long-term battle for immigration reform.

Grand Canyon State Democrats are claiming the decision -- which struck down several portions of the law but kept the immigration status-check portion -- is a victory in the party's battle to reverse the conservative trend dominating Arizona politics. The decision should open the door to moving long-term discussions on immigration policy to the federal level, they said.

Former Arizona Democratic Chairman Andrei Cherny said the court's decision is in line with what the state believes.

"It will put jet fuel on a brush fire already happening in this state," Cherny told HuffPost. "The tide is turning. The Republicans who pushed this for purely political reasons overplayed their hand."

Cherny, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for a Phoenix-area congressional seat in the August primary, said he sees the decision as an asset to Democratic candidates for state and federal offices statewide in November. Arizona Democrats have been trying to reduce Republican super majorities in both houses of the state Legislature.

Cherny -- who helmed the state party during the recall of former Senate President Russell Pearce, the law's sponsor -- cited polls that show 85 percent of residents are looking for "immigration reform that include a pathway to citizenship." He also called for the discussion to move to Washington and the federal government.

"You could not get 85 percent of the people to say the moon is made out of green cheese," Cherny said. "Be it Jan Brewer, [Maricopa County Sheriff] Joe Arpaio or Russell Pearce, they are out of touch. There will be massive repercussions."

House Minority Leader Chad Campbell (D-Phoenix) agreed that while Arizona has "real issues with immigration," the solutions go beyond state government, adding that the state does not have the resources or funding to enact the comprehensive reform needed alone.

"What we've had is Jan Brewer pointing her finger at the president," Campbell said. "Jan Brewer lecturing the federal government what to do, Russell Pearce telling the federal government what do to. That is not leadership."

Brewer, who signed the immigration bill in 2010, claimed victory in a statement released by her office Monday morning, saying that the court's decision was a "victory for the rule of law." She said that she will continue to implement the law and train local law enforcement on it, but anticipates future litigation over the remaining parts of the law.

Now seeking the Republican nomination for a Phoenix-area Senate seat in August, Pearce told Salon that he is "very happy" with the court's decision, saying that retaining the portion about questioning the legal status of those detained is an important part of the law.

“They upheld the most compelling piece … section 2(b)," he told Salon. "The other sections were just icing on the cake, they were not critical, they were just nice to have. Everyone wants to make a deal about those, but it’s still illegal at the federal level not to have your papers with you.”

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who wrote the Arizona law and similar bills for other states, agreed, telling the Kansas City Star that the decision to keep the law's status portion is key for immigration reform.

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