(Newsroom America) -- The Department of Homeland Security on Monday said it was suspending existing agreements with Arizona police regarding enforcement of federal immigration laws, adding that it has instructed federal officials to ignore calls reporting illegal immigrants that the agency may receive from Arizona authorities.
The policy change comes in the wake of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling earlier in the day which upheld part of a state law requiring Arizona police to check the immigration status of any suspect believed to be in the country illegally, the Washington Times reported.
Administration officials, who asked not to be named, said they expected an increase in calls from Arizona police following the ruling, but that the department would adhere to an earlier executive decision from President Obama directing DHS to limit deportations to specific cases.
"We will not be issuing detainers on individuals unless they clearly meet our defined priorities," said one official in a telephone briefing, according to the paper.
In a separate statement following the ruling, DHS secretary Janet Napolitano, a former Arizona governor, praised the high court's ruling, which struck down most of Arizona's law as unconstitutional.
"DHS remains focused on enhancing public safety and the integrity of our border by prioritizing enforcement resources on those who are in the country unlawfully and committing crimes, those who have repeatedly violated our immigration laws, and those who recently crossed our borders illegally," she said.
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, however, praised the portion of the court's ruling which essentially upheld the state's right to check immigration status.
"We will move forward, instructing law enforcement to begin practicing what the United States Supreme Court has upheld," she said.
Police in the state have since voiced frustration with the situation, saying the ruling does not clarify what is, and is not, considered permissible by the Constitution and by federal statutes.
The Los Angeles Times said that despite Brewer's declaration that the high court's decision was a "victory for the rule of law," enforcement of it is another thing altogether.
For one thing, they say requiring cops to solicit immigration status could lead to charges of racial profiling - something the Obama Justice Department said it would be watching very closely.
On the other hand, police agencies that don't aggressively follow the state's instructions could be open to allegations from the public that they are not enforcing the law.
"We absolutely expect lawsuits on both sides of this issue," Tucson Police Chief Roberto Villasenor told the L.A. Times. "This will result in our officers being tied up in court rather than working on the streets to reduce crime."
Still, said John Bennett, head of the Arizona Assn. of Chiefs of Police, agencies will do what is expected of them.
"We're going to enforce this law. There may be problems, but no matter what you do as a police department, you're always subject to litigation," he said.
© 2012 Newsroom America.