Federal judge hears arguments on Arizona immigration law

[JURIST] A judge for the US District Court for the District of Arizona [official website] heard arguments on Tuesday concerning whether to enjoin a controversial provision of Arizona's immigration law [SB 1070, PDF] that requires law enforcement officials to check the immigration status of persons they stop or arrest if there is a reasonable suspicion that the person is in the US illegally. Judge Susan Bolton heard arguments on two questions [Arizona Republic report]. The first legal question addressed was whether extending the detention of suspects to determine their immigration status violate the suspects' constitutional rights. The second question was whether SB 1070 unconstitutionally discriminates against Latinos. The lawsuit was filed in July [JURIST report] by a coalition of civil rights groups. The rights groups asked Bolton to block the provision on Fourth Amendment and equal protection grounds. In July 2010 Bolton enjoined several provisions of SB 1070 [JURIST report] including the one that requires law enforcement officials to check the immigration status of suspects. It is unclear whether she will strike down that provision again in light of the US Supreme Court's ruling in Arizona v. United States [opinion, PDF; JURIST report] which upheld the provision.

Immigration laws [JURIST backgrounder] have became a hot button issue over the past few years when many states, Arizona being the first, passed laws giving their state and local officials more power to crack down on illegal immigration. On Monday the US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit [official website] partially struck down [JURIST report] Alabama and Georgia's immigration laws, but upheld other provisions. On Friday Utah's Attorney General argued that the state's restrictive immigration law should be upheld [JURIST report] in light of the Supreme Court's decision in Arizona v. United States. Last month the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and National Immigration Law Center (NILC) [advocacy websites] asked [JURIST report] a federal judge to strike down a provision of Arizona's law that requires police to check the immigration status of people they stop on Equal Protection grounds. The provision was upheld [JURIST report] by the US Supreme Court but only on the grounds that it did not conflict with the federal government's powers regarding illegal immigration. This decision also struck down two provisions of Arizona's law that made it a crime to be in the state or apply for a job in the state without valid immigration papers and one that allowed police officers to arrest without a warrant people whom they believed had committed a crime which could cause them to be deported. Other states' laws have been challenged as well, but many have been made easier due to the Supreme Court's ruling. Georgia argued [JURIST report] last month that its law is valid under the ruling, while Alabama conceded that some provisions of its law would need to be changed.

 

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