One of the last major barriers to implementing a controversial
portion of Arizona's immigration law fell Wednesday when a federal judge
decided not to impose a new injunction on the so-called "show me your
U.S District Judge Susan Bolton denied a request for a further
injunction against a provision of Arizona's immigration law, SB 1070,
that requires law-enforcement officers to check the legal status of
people stopped during the investigation of possible crimes.
Bolton, however, did grant a preliminary injunction against a statute
making it unlawful to transport or harbor individuals suspected of
being in the country illegally.
A coalition of civil-rights groups had requested that both statutes
be stayed after the U.S. Supreme Court overruled a 2-year-old prior
injunction against the provision related to officers checking a person's
In a separate order issued Wednesday, Bolton told the U.S. Department
of Justice and Arizona that they have 10 days to work out the wording
of the order that will officially lift the prior injunction.
In denying a new injunction, Bolton wrote that she "will not ignore
the clear direction" of the Supreme Court, which opined in June that
Section 2B of Arizona's law would have to go into effect to determine
whether it infringes on the civil rights of the people whose immigration
status is questioned.
Section 2B requires officers to make a reasonable attempt to
determine the immigration status of a person stopped, detained or
arrested if there is reasonable suspicion that the person is in the
Supporters of SB 1070, including Gov. Jan Brewer, cheered the ruling.
"After more than two years of legal challenges, it is time that
Section 2B of SB 1070 take effect," Brewer said in a statement. "Given
today's ruling, along with the federal court's suggestion that it
intends in the very near future to formally lift the existing
injunction, it is clear the day of implementation is fast approaching."
At a news conference Wednesday, she added, "As I've always said
Senate Bill 1070 must be enforced fairly, effectively and without
compromising civil rights or the Constitution. I know the world is
watching. But I know that our state and local officers are up to the
Hispanic community leaders decried Bolton's ruling, saying it will lead to widespread racial profiling.
"Just because you are Latino should not be a basis" to answer
questions about citizenship or immigration status, said Daniel Ortega, a
Phoenix attorney and activist.
Karen Tumlin of the National Immigration Law Center, one of the
groups that requested the injunction, said, "If we find that the law as
implemented violates the Constitution in any fashion, we'll certainly be
back in court.
"Today's ruling certainly shows that the coalition has been working
hard and will continue working until the unconstitutional law is
dismantled piece by piece."
Brewer signed SB 1070 into law in spring 2010. It was immediately
challenged in lawsuits filed by the U.S. Department of Justice and
numerous civil-rights and advocacy groups, including the groups involved
in seeking the new injunction.
Before the law took effect, Bolton enjoined Section 2B and three
other parts in response to a motion in the Justice Department case.
The injunction was upheld in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals,
and in June, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the injunction except for
The Justice Department case was based on the concept that federal law pre-empts state law.
The high court ruled that Section 2B did not automatically violate
constitutional rights and was not necessarily pre-empted by federal
immigration law. But the justices suggested the matter could be
reconsidered if evidence of violations surfaced after the law went into
The new motion for an injunction fell under a different case filed by
the advocacy groups, and it raised issues besides pre-emption.
On July 17, the advocacy groups, which include the American Civil
Liberties Union, the National Immigration Law Center and the Mexican
American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, filed a motion for a new
injunction claiming that public statements by Arizona law-enforcement
officials suggested people would be detained longer than
constitutionally permitted while their immigration status was checked.
The advocates also raised a separate claim that SB 1070 was passed
with intent to discriminate, in violation of the Equal Protection Clause
of the 14th Amendment. They based their argument largely on e-mails
obtained from legislators, especially from former state Sen. Russell
Pearce, who sponsored SB 1070.
But Bolton disagreed.
The coalition also asked that another section forbidding harboring or
transporting illegal-immigrant criminals be enjoined, as well. That
statute has been in effect since the law was passed in 2010. Bolton
ruled that the provision was pre-empted by federal law and imposed the
injunction against it.
Cecillia Wang, director of the ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project,
praised Bolton's ruling on the harboring portion, saying the statute
"criminalized many everyday interactions with unauthorized immigrants."
Lydia Guzman, a Valley immigrant advocate, went on Spanish-language
television Wednesday to let immigrants know that implementation of SB
1070 is near. She said she wanted undocumented immigrants to know that
if they get stopped by the police and don't have a driver's license,
they could be questioned about their citizenship or immigration status.
Phoenix police Sgt. Tommy Thompson said Wednesday that the department
is in a "holding pattern" while federal and state officials work out
how to implement the previously enjoined section of the law.
Ortega, the Phoenix attorney, said he is advising U.S. citizens and
legal residents that they are obligated to show police their driver's
license, registration and insurance card during traffic stops but that
they are not obligated to answer questions about where they were born,
their citizenship or immigration status.
"The goal is not to create a confrontation with police but to protect our constitutional rights," Ortega said.
Pearce, the former state senator, countered the racial-profiling
argument: "1070 was necessary because police have political handcuffs
placed on them by political appointees who refused to allow them to do
their job. We simply want the laws enforced.
"It's in 1070 that you can't use racial profiling. It's right in
there that you have to have legitimate contact, reasonable suspicion."