Attorneys for Arizona Governor Jan Brewer [official website] filed an opening brief [text, PDF] with the US Supreme Court [official website] on Monday, asking the court to lift an injunction that has blocked many contentious provisions of a state immigration law [SB 1070 materials; JURIST news archive] from taking effect. SB 1070, passed in April 2010, makes illegal immigration a state crime and requires police officers to question an individual's immigration status if the officer has a "reasonable suspicion" to believe an individual is in the country illegally. In its brief, Arizona argued that its controversial immigration law is necessary because illegal immigration poses a severe threat to the state's well-being and Congress has been negligent in its enforcement of federal immigration laws:
The result [of lax federal enforcement] has been the funneling of an increasing tide of illegal border crossings into Arizona. Indeed, over the past decade, over a third of the nation's illegal border crossings occurred in Arizona. ... This flood of unlawful cross-border traffic, and the accompanying influx of illegal drugs, dangerous criminals and highly vulnerable persons, have resulted in massive problems for Arizona's citizens and government, leaving them to bear a seriously disproportionate share of the burden of an already urgent national problem.In December, the Supreme Court agreed to hear this case [JURIST report], entitled Arizona v. United States, to determine whether or not SB 1070 is preempted by federal law. Oral argument is scheduled for April 25.
SB 1070 has had a polarizing effect since its passage. Legislatures in states such as Utah, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama and Indiana [JURIST reports] have passed immigration laws in the past two years that mirror Arizona's. While SB 1070 has spawned many new state laws in its image, it has also attracted sharp criticism. In July 2010, the American Bar Association (ABA) [official website] filed a brief [JURIST report] urging the US District Court for the District of Arizona [official website] to block SB 1070 from taking effect. The ABA's brief came on the heels of a US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] lawsuit challenging the SB 1070's constitutionality. In May 2010, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] filed a suit seeking to block implementation of the new law [JURIST report]. Earlier in May 2010, a group of UN human rights experts argued that SB 1070 may violate international standards [JURIST report].