SCOTUS issues opinion in case concerning the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA)

On March 3, 2020, the Supreme Court of the United States issued its ruling in Kansas v. Garcia, a case concerning the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA).

In the case, Ramiro Garcia, Donaldo Morales, and Guadalupe Ochoa-Lara were each convicted of identity theft in Johnson County, Kansas. They each appealed their convictions to the Kansas Supreme Court, arguing the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) preempted their prosecution. On appeal, the Kansas Supreme Court reversed the three convictions. The State of Kansas appealed the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The questions presented before the Supreme Court of the United States were:
1. Whether IRCA expressly preempts the States from using any information entered on or appended to a federal Form I-9, including common information such as name, date of birth, and social security number, in a prosecution of any person (citizen or alien) when that same, commonly used information also appears in non-IRCA documents, such as state tax forms, leases, and credit applications.
2. Whether the Immigration Reform and Control Act impliedly preempts Kansas’ prosecution of respondents.

In a 5-4 opinion, the court reversed and remanded the Kansas Supreme Court’s decision, holding that the Kansas statutes under which Garcia, Morales, and Ochoa-Lara were convicted are not expressly preempted.

Justice Samuel Alito delivered the opinion of the court. Justice Clarence Thomas filed a concurring opinion, in which Justice Neil Gorsuch joined. Justice Stephen Breyer filed an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part, in which Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan joined.

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Kate Carsella

Kate Carsella is a staff writer at Ballotpedia. Contact us at editor@ballotpedia.org.

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