Heart of immigration law blocked
Judge rejects most controversial parts; appeal is expected
PHOENIX — A federal judge blocked the most controversial elements of Arizona’s new immigration law Wednesday, thrilling the law’s opponents, dismaying its advocates and setting the stage for more legal battles.
“We would have liked to have seen it all upheld, but a temporary injunction is not the end of it,” said Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, who signed the legislation in April. “I look at this as a little bump in the road.”
The governor said she was looking forward to getting started on the appeals process. “Jan Brewer is not a quitter,” she said.
U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton halted implementation of the parts of the law that require police to determine the immigration status of people they stop and think are in the
Continued from A1 country illegally. She also forbade the state from charging anyone with failure to possess immigration documents, a crime under the new law.
In her 36-page decision, Bolton wrote that the measure would have hamstrung the federal government’s efforts to enforce immigration law.
“The federal government’s ability to enforce its policies and achieve its objectives will be undermined by the state’s enforcement of statutes that interfere with federal law,” she wrote.
The law’s supporters, who contended it was needed to stop illegal immigrants from coming to Arizona, vowed a swift appeal.
Brewer, speaking with reporters as she left the University of Arizona technology park, said she thinks the law is constitutional. Brewer also said, as she has repeatedly in the past, that the law was an attempt to protect the state.
“I wish that the federal government would step up and do their job so we could all be safe and secure in the state of Arizona,” she said.
Immigrant-rights groups were ebullient.
“It means justice will truly prevail,” said Lydia Guzman, president of Somos America, or We Are America.
Phoenix Vice Mayor Michael Nowakowski, an opponent of the measure, told reporters outside the courthouse that the ruling was “a victory for individuals who say the federal law is the federal law.”
Bolton’s ruling found that the Obama administration was likely to prevail at trial in proving that the provisions requiring police to determine immigration status and immigrants to carry documents, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio says his department is ready to face activists expected in Phoenix today who protest SB 1070. along with two other provisions of the sweeping law, were an unconstitutional attempt by Arizona to regulate immigration. Arizona is expected to immediately appeal the decision to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.
As the clock ticked down toward the implementation of the law, known as SB 1070, tensions had been rising as both sides braced for confrontations in the streets and waited to see how — and if — the judge would rule before the law was to take effect today.
Busloads of demonstrators were arriving from Los Angeles and were expected to join large numbers of locals protesting the measure this morning.
Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio — whose campaign against illegal immigrants has made him a widely popular, though controversial, figure here — had said he would open a new section of his outdoor tent jail that he is dubbing “Section 1070,” where he intended to house illegal immigrants detained as a result of the law. Arpaio, whose high-rise offices in downtown Phoenix were to be targeted by demonstrators today, released a statement before Bolton’s ruling warning that he would not tolerate lawbreakers.
“Activists and their celebrity sympathizers who wish to target this community and this sheriff by attempting to disrupt our jail and patrol operations will be unsuccessful, as we will be fully prepared to meet those challenges headon with appropriately staffed personnel and resources,” he said.
Polls have shown that Arizonans overwhelmingly support the law. That was the view expressed by Faye Yanez, 65, as she and her husband were leaving a Home Depot in Tucson. Yanez said she was disappointed by the ruling.
“We feel slighted,” she said. “The state should have a right to take care of the state because the federal government isn’t doing anything.”
Yanez, a schoolteacher, said the cost of health care and education is higher than it should be because of illegal immigrants in Arizona.
“I have nothing against them getting health care or education, but have someone sponsor them,” she said.
Susie Baker, 53, who remodels homes in Tucson, felt differently.
“I am thrilled,” she said, as she headed into the store. “I think Jan Brewer is out of her mind. She is bringing harm to Arizona.”