A three-judge panel of US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [official website] heard oral arguments Monday on Arizona's controversial immigration law [SB 1070 materials, JURIST news archive]. The US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] has argued that parts of the law are unconstitutional while others are preempted by federal law. John Bouma, representing Arizona and Arizona Governor Jan Brewer (R) [official website], argued that the state is on the front line of human and drug trafficking from Mexico, and the law is meant to assist with the enforcement and implementation of federal immigration law when the federal government is either "unable or unwilling to solve the problem." Representing the federal government, Edwin Kneedler argued that allowing states to create immigration laws could create a patchwork system and potentially harm foreign relations.
Brewer attended the proceedings [NYT report] to support Arizona's law on the day before her bid seeking re-election. Polls show that she is comfortably ahead. Brewer defended [press release] Arizona's position on her website:
With a federal government that cannot or will not do its job, Arizona determined that Arizona law enforcement officers would assist in the enforcement of federal immigration laws to the full extent permitted by federal law. The District Court applied the wrong legal standard of review and issued a preliminary injunction that preserves the status quo - a status quo that is unacceptable to the people lawfully present in Arizona, many whose lives are affected on a daily basis.Regardless of the Ninth Circuit's ruling, the case is expected to be appealed to the Supreme Court.
Last month, US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) [official website] Secretary Janet Napolitano [official profile] and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) [official website] Director John Morton [official profile] announced that the US government has deported a record number of illegal immigrants [JURIST report] during 2010. In September, a judge for the US District Court for the District of Arizona granted a motion to dismiss [order, PDF; JURIST report] a police officer's suit [JURIST report] challenging the law. Brewer and Arizona have fiercely defended the law despite its controversial nature, appealing to the Ninth Circuit a July ruling of the US District Court for the District of Arizona [official website] enjoining [JURIST report] its enforcement. In July, soon after the injunction was issued, the Ninth Circuit denied Arizona's request for expedited appeal [JURIST reports]. The preliminary injunction came at the request of the DOJ, which originally filed suit challenging the constitutionality of the law [JURIST report] in July.