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Federal appeals court upholds injunction against Arizona immigration law

The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [official website] on Tuesday affirmed [opinion, PDF] a preliminary injunction against a portion of Arizona's controversial immigration law [SB 1070, PDF]. The provision in question makes it illegal to transport, shield or harbor an undocumented immigrant within Arizona borders, creating a separate crime for someone who is violating any other law while also transporting or harboring such an individual. The provision would also make it a crime to encourage or induce someone to illegally come to or live in the state. Judge Paez, writing for the three-judge panel, found the statute "incomprehensible to a person of ordinary intelligence" and therefore "void for vagueness." The court also determined that, regardless of interpretation, the provision is preempted by federal law and thus void under the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution.

In March the Ninth Circuit upheld an injunction [JURIST report] barring the enforcement of a provision of SB 1070 which prohibited motorists from stopping traffic to pick up workers. SB 1070 has also gained notoriety for its controversial provision requiring 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. Last year the US Supreme Court ruled [JURIST report] in Arizona v. United States [SCOTUSblog backgrounder] to strike down sections of the Arizona law, but upheld the controversial portion allowing police officers to check immigration status of anyone arrested. The harboring ban affirmed by the Ninth Circuit on Tuesday had been in effect since SB 1070's inception in July 2010 until it was struck down [JURIST report] by the US District Court for the District of Arizona last September.

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