The U.S. Supreme Court's decision next week on Arizona's immigration law won't end the debate or the legalities.
If the law, known as SB 1070, is upheld, as many are predicting, it will almost immediately trigger a civil rights lawsuit that has been pending for two years, says a lawyer handling the case.
Additionally, Arizona's rapidly growing Latino population can be expected to gain political power, bringing balance to a system that now tilts conservative, says a public policy analyst.
The civil rights lawsuit, filed on behalf of Latinos by the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona, is on hold because the federal government's "preemption" challenge to SB 1070 took precedence.
Preemption is the argument over federal vs. state sovereignty on matters of immigration. It is the basis for the federal government's challenge to SB 1070, that the state law usurps what is exclusive federal authority.
Beyond preemption is where more argument and the possibility of success in overturning provisions in the the law lies, said Dan Pochoda, legal director of the ACLU of Arizona.
"We feel strongly that the law is unconstitutional in any number of ways," he said in an Arizona Week interview. " ... We have raised a significant array of constitutional issues that go beyond the Department of Justice's litigation, which is only based on preemption."
He said the ACLU will proceed with its lawsuit should any aspect of the law be upheld by the Supreme Court.
"We believe that a number of the provisions in 1070 raise important First Amendment issues concerning speech and rights of association," he said. One provision, regarding solicitation for work, already has been ruled unconstitutional in U.S. District Court, and that ruling stands, Pochoda said.
He also said the Fourth and 14th amendments come into play, with provisions that go to the argument that SB 1070 could lead to racial profiling of Latinos.
"It's inevitable, once this is put into effect, it will violate the Fourth Amendment or other rights," Pochoda said.
" ... The equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment we believe will be inevitably violated in a widespread manner. That is because of the racial profiling. The law will lead to decisions being made solely on the basis of ethnicity."
Another lawyer said he thinks the law affords immigrants protection from racial profiling, because the law prohibits its use "except to the extent permitted by the United States Constitution or Arizona Constitution."
Juan Rocha, an assistant public defender in the federal public defender's office in Tucson, said that while he would not call the law good, he thinks it provides a layer of protection from profiling that does not now exist in federal law.
"The way the statute reads says that racial profiling is not allowed except to the extent permitted by the constitution," said Rocha, who noted that his comments were his own and not the opinion of the public defender's office.
Latinos represent the fastest growing segment of Arizona's population, and the vast majority of them are in the United States legally, as citizens, said Joseph Garcia, an analyst on Latino public policy with the Morrison Institute for Public Policy at Arizona State University.
Ninety-seven percent of Latino children under age 5 in Arizona are citizens, and 88 percent under age 20 are citizens, Garcia said.
That means when they become voters, they will hold much greater leverage in state politics, and that means Latinos and non-Latinos must begin now to bridge the gap.