PHOENIX (AP) - A federal judge on Wednesday blocked the most
controversial parts of Arizona's immigration law from taking
effect, delivering a last-minute victory to opponents of the
The overall law will still take effect Thursday, but without the
provisions that angered opponents - including sections that
required officers to check a person's immigration status while
enforcing other laws.
The judge also put on hold parts of the law that required
immigrants to carry their papers at all times, and made it illegal
for undocumented workers to solicit employment in public places.
U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton ruled that those sections
should be put on hold until the courts resolve the issues. Other
provisions of the law, many of them procedural and slight revisions
to existing Arizona immigration statute, will go into effect at
The ruling came just as police were making last-minute
preparations to begin enforcement of the law and protesters were
planning large demonstrations to speak out against the measure. At
least one group planned to block access to federal offices, daring
officers to ask them about their immigration status.
The volume of the protests will likely be turned down a few
notches because of the ruling by Bolton, a Clinton appointee who
suddenly became a crucial figure in the immigration debate when she
was assigned the seven lawsuits filed against the Arizona law.
Lawyers for the state contend the law was a constitutionally
sound attempt by Arizona - the busiest illegal gateway into the
country - to assist federal immigration agents and lessen border
woes such as the heavy costs for educating, jailing and providing
health care for illegal immigrants.
Opponents argued the law will lead to racial profiling, conflict
with federal immigration law and distract local police from
fighting more serious crimes. The U.S. Justice Department, civil
rights groups and a Phoenix police officer had asked the judge for
an injunction to prevent the law from being enforced.
"There is a substantial likelihood that officers will
wrongfully arrest legal resident aliens under the new (law),"
Bolton ruled. "By enforcing this statute, Arizona would impose a
'distinct, unusual and extraordinary' burden on legal resident
aliens that only the federal government has the authority to
The law was signed by Republican Gov. Jan Brewer in April and
immediately revived the national debate on immigration, making it a
hot-button issue in the midterm elections.
The law has inspired rallies in Arizona and elsewhere by
advocates on both sides of the immigration debate. Some opponents
have advocated a tourism boycott of Arizona.
It also led an unknown number of illegal immigrants to leave
Arizona for other American states or their home countries.
Federal authorities who are trying to overturn the law have
argued that letting the Arizona law stand would create a patchwork
of immigration laws nationwide that would needlessly complicate the
foreign relations of the United States. Federal lawyers said the
law is disrupting U.S. relations with Mexico and other countries
and would burden the agency that responds to immigration-status
Brewer's lawyers said Arizona shouldn't have to suffer from
America's broken immigration system when it has 15,000 police
officers who can arrest illegal immigrants.
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)