[JURIST] A Montana judge has struck down [opinion, PDF] most of a voter approved immigration law that requires government officials to check the immigration status of anyone applying for state services. The law was approved [text, PDF] by voters [JURIST report] in November 2012 by an overwhelming majority [AP report] of 74 percent. Judge Jeffrey Sherlock ruled Friday that the law, except for one section, is preempted by federal law. Sherlock wrote:
In sum, the Court finds that the enactment is, for the most part, preempted by federal law. This is primarily because the State has created a classification of immigrants unknown to the federal law. However, the Court has noted that the reporting provision of the enactment, section 1(3), appears not to be preempted. The issue to the Court then becomes whether that provision should be severable from the enactment as a whole. … The Court concludes that the reporting provisions of LR 121 are capable of being executed in accordance with the apparent legislative intent, and therefore must be sustained.
A spokesperson for Montana’s attorney general defended the law [Reuters report] and stated that they would decide whether to appeal within 60 days.
In the absence of federal immigration reform, state governments have continued to enact various measures. Earlier this month Florida Governor Rick Scott signed a law [JURIST report] allowing undocumented students to receive in-state tuition, joining 16 other states already allowing this. In March South Carolina announced that it would comply with a court order [JURIST report] preventing it from enforcing the “show me your papers” provision of SB 20 [text]. According to the US Department of Justice the number of deportations in the US has steadily been declining [JURIST report].