Sonia Sotomayor on Immigration



DACA protect childhood immigrants from deportation

The Supreme Court blocked the Trump administration's attempt to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, an Obama-era program that protects immigrants brought to the US as children from deportation. After Trump came into office, the administration announced the program had been created "without proper authority" and that DACA would be phased out.

Federal courts said the administration had acted arbitrarily when phasing out the program. The courts pointed to the administration's thin justification--reasoning Roberts and the Supreme Court eventually agreed with.

The 5-4 ruling was written by Chief Justice Roberts and joined by Sotomayor, emphasizing that the administration failed to provide an adequate reason to justify ending the DACA program. Roberts wrote in the majority opinion. "'The wisdom of those decisions 'is none of our concern.' We address only whether the agency complied with the procedural requirement that it provide a reasoned explanation for its action."

Source: CNN on 2020 Scotus ruling on DACA , Jun 18, 2020

OpEd: personal story is a classic immigrant struggle

While it is early in the effort to put Sonia Sotomayor on the Supreme Court, my sense is that if she does make it, the prospects for passing immigration reform this year will improve. The emphasis on her hard-scrabble roots, the classic immigrant struggle, her father who never spoke English, her own incredible success, is itself a deeply powerful repudiation of the other less than flattering narratives about Hispanic immigrants we've seen in the media these past few years.
Source: Simon Rosenberg on New Democratic Network (NDN) website , May 28, 2009

AZ law obstructs uniformity in immigration enforcement.

Justice Sotomayor wrote the dissent on CHAMBER OF COMMERCE v. WHITING on May 26, 2011:

The 1986 federal Immigration Reform and Control Act forbids state governments from sanctioning employers who hire "unauthorized aliens." The 2007 Legal Arizona Workers Act authorizes State courts to suspend and revoke State-issued licenses, charters, etc. for businesses that knowingly hire "unauthorized aliens." The AZ law also requires employers to use the federal E-Verify system to determine the work eligibility of all employees.

HELD:Delivered by Roberts; joined by Scalia, Kennedy, Alito & Thomas

The federal law allows States to take licensing action. The word "license" includes the many forms of legal permission to perform an act, and therefore includes charters, articles of incorporation, etc. The AZ law relies only on determinations made by federal authorities of employment eligibility, and allows employers the same good faith defense as in federal law. Employers, in fact, must use the E-Verify system provided by the federal government.

DISSENT #1:Breyer dissents; joined by Ginsburg

The AZ law intrudes on Congress's balancing of
  1. immigration enforcement
  2. burdens on employers, and
  3. prevention of discrimination.
The meaning of "licensing" in the immigration law was never intended to mean every form of business permit that a State might issue, but only in regards to licensed employment agencies. Also, E-Verify is error prone and may not be relied upon.

DISSENT #2:Sotomayor dissents

This one poorly drafted clause in the federal immigration statute was only meant to allow States to take action against business licenses AFTER a successful federal government prosecution of a business for hiring an unauthorized alien. The AZ law runs contrary to the uniformity and expertise in enforcement of immigration law that Congress intended by allowing only federal officials to prosecute and rule upon civil and criminal cases.

Kagan recused herself.

Source: Supreme Court case 11-WHITING argued on Dec 8, 2010

  • Click here for definitions & background information on Immigration.
  • Click here for a profile of Sonia Sotomayor.
  • Wiki Profile of Sonia Sotomayor.
  • Click here for VoteMatch responses by Sonia Sotomayor.
  • Click here for AmericansElect responses by Sonia Sotomayor.
  • Click here for all excerpts for Sonia Sotomayor.
Other Justices on Immigration: Sonia Sotomayor on other issues:
Samuel Alito(since 2006)
Amy Coney Barrett(since 2020)
Stephen Breyer(since 1994)
Neil Gorsuch(since 2017)
Ketanji Brown Jackson(nominated 2022)
Elena Kagan(since 2010)
Brett Kavanaugh(since 2018)
John Roberts(since 2005)
Sonia Sotomayor(since 2009)
Clarence Thomas(since 1991)

Former Justices:
Merrick Garland(nominated 2016)
Ruth Bader Ginsburg(1993-2020)
Anthony Kennedy(1988-2018)
Antonin Scalia(1986-2016)
John Paul Stevens(1975-2010)
David Souter(1990-2009)
Sandra Day O'Connor(1981-2006)
William Rehnquist(1975-2005)

Party Platforms:
Democratic Platform
Green Platform
Libertarian Platform
Natural Law Platform
Reform Platform
Republican Platform
Tea Platform
Civil Rights
Foreign Policy
Free Trade
Govt. Reform
Gun Control
Health Care
Homeland Security
Social Security
Tax Reform

Page last updated: Mar 21, 2022