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Federal judge strikes down Arizona law on smuggling immigrants

[JURIST] A judge for the US District Court for the District of Arizona [official website] on Friday struck down [order, PDF] an Arizona law that made smuggling immigrants a state crime because it conflicts with federal laws governing immigration. The law was passed in 2005 and designed to prosecute those trafficking people into the country. It was by modified Arizona's controversial immigration law [SB 1070, PDF] which gave local authorities the ability to stop people suspected of being in the country illegally. Judge Susan Bolton ruled that the state law was preempted by the US government's authority to enforce immigration laws. The decision follows a string of recent restrictions on Arizona's anti-immigrant laws. Last month the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [official website] ruled [JURIST report] that an Arizona law that acted to deny bail to individuals in the US illegally and charged with a range of felonies was unconstitutional.

US immigration law [JURIST backgrounder] continues to be a controversial and heavily politicized area of law. Earlier this month the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund [official website] filed [JURIST report] a complaint with the Department of Homeland Security and US Immigration and Customs Enforcement [official websites] alleging widespread sexual abuse and harassment taking place at the immigration family detention center of Karnes City, Texas. In August the American Civil Liberties Union [advocacy website] settled a federal lawsuit [JURIST report] requiring US immigration authorities to ensure that undocumented Mexican immigrants are made aware of their right to a hearing before an immigration judge. In June the Obama administration announced that it would boost the ranks of immigration judges, lawyers and asylum officers [JURIST report] to decrease the flow of undocumented children into the country.

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