A coalition of rights groups in Arizona filed an emergency motion on Thursday asking a court to block a controversial provision of Arizona's immigration law [SB 1070, PDF] until an appeal can be heard on the issue. The contested provision 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. A judge for the US District Court for the District of Arizona [official website] last week declined to issue an injunction against the provision [JURIST report], in light of the US Supreme Court [official website] ruling in Arizona v. United States [opinion, PDF; JURIST report] which upheld the provision. Among the rights groups involved in the suit are the National Immigration Law Center (NILC), the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) [advocacy websites].
Immigration law [JURIST backgrounder] has became a hot button issue over the past few years as many states, Arizona being the first, have passed laws giving state and local officials more power to crack down on illegal immigration. In August the US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit [official website] struck down [JURIST report] several provisions of Alabama's controversial immigration law [HB 56, PDF], upheld a few sections of the law and rejected part of Georgia's immigration law [HB 87, text]. That same month, the US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit [official website] again heard arguments [JURIST report] on two anti-illegal immigrant laws enacted in 2006 by the city of Hazleton, Pennsylvania, which deny permits to businesses that employ illegal immigrants and fine landlords who extend housing to them. In July a judge for the US District Court for the District of South Carolina [official website] declined to lift an injunction [JURIST report] against South Carolina's controversial immigration law [SB 20 materials], despite the recent Supreme Court ruling. The lawsuit against the South Carolina immigration law was put on hold [JURIST report] in January pending the outcome of Arizona v. United States. Last May the ACLU and the National Immigration Law Center filed a class action lawsuit challenging Utah's immigration law, the same month that the ACLU filed a class action [JURIST reports] in the US District Court for the Southern District of Indiana [official website] challenging that state's immigration law.