Now fed­eral govern­ment must act

Austin American-Statesman - - OPINION -

In a vic­tory for the fed­eral govern­ment and civil rights ad­vo­cates, U.S. District Court Judge Su­san Bolton put a tem­po­rary hold on Ari­zona’s harsh im­mi­gra­tion law Wed­nes­day, for­bid­ding the most con­tro­ver­sial parts of it from tak­ing ef­fect Thurs­day as sched­uled. Her tem­po­rary in­junc­tion in­val­i­dates the por­tions of the law, among oth­ers, that re­quired po­lice of­fi­cers to check the im­mi­gra­tion sta­tus of peo­ple they stop and that re­quired im­mi­grants to carry their pa­pers at all times.

The rul­ing is not the last word on SB 1070; the fed­eral suit against the state will con­tinue. But in grant­ing the in­junc­tion — and mak­ing it clear that the fed­eral govern­ment is likely to pre­vail at trial — the judge has pow­er­fully bol­stered the ar­gu­ment that a state can­not pre-empt fed­eral author­ity on the mat­ter of im­mi­gra­tion.

Not only are we pleased with the rul­ing, but we hope it throws cold wa­ter on sim­i­lar pro­pos­als per­co­lat­ing in leg­is­la­tures across the coun­try.

Even though the court did not side with Ari­zona, the state’s pow­ers are not di­min­ished. Its lo­cal law en­force­ment agen­cies al­ready lead the nation in turn­ing over il­le­gal im­mi­grants to fed­eral au­thor­i­ties, and that will prob­a­bly con­tinue.

Mari­copa County alone, where Sher­iff Joe Ar­paio is un­der fed­eral in­ves­ti­ga­tion for civil rights vi­o­la­tions, has as­sisted in the de­por­ta­tion of 26,000 il­le­gal im­mi­grants since 2007 — about one-quar­ter of the to­tal de­por­ta­tions na­tion­ally dur­ing that pe­riod.

Ari­zona still has the tools it needs to keep its ver­sion of the peace. But in the end, nei­ther Ari­zona nor any other state will be able to ar­rest its way out of a prob­lem that re­quires con­certed, com­pre­hen­sive con­gres­sional ac­tion. That’s why the ap­pro­pri­ate re­sponse to the in­junc­tion is for the frus­trated pub­lic — in and out­side of Ari­zona — to hold the fed­eral govern­ment to its word. It has as­serted its author­ity on the sub­ject, and now it should be pressed to use it.

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