Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Appeals Court Upholds Injunction Against Arizona Law on Immigrants
From Staff and Wire Service Reports
The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals yesterday declined to lift a stay blocking major parts of Arizona’s immigration law from taking effect and said the federal government is likely to be able to prove the controversial law is unconstitutional.
In a decision by Judge Richard A. Paez, the panel turned down a request by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer to lift an injunction imposed by U.S. District Judge Susan R. Bolton of the District of Arizona the day before the law was to take effect on July 29, 2010.
The Justice Department had sued to enjoin implementation of the measure, known as the Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act, asserting S.B. 1070 violated the Supremacy Clause on the grounds that it was preempted by the Immigration and Nationality Act
Paez said the government is likely to succeed in its arguments that Congress has given the federal government sole authority to enforce immigration laws, and that Arizona’s law violates the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution.
Senior Judge John T. Noonan concurred, but wrote separately to address Sec. 1 of the Arizona law—which he opined was “to secure attrition through enforcement,” and the overall measure’s “incompatibility with federal foreign policy.”
Judge Carlos T. Bea also wrote separately concurring in the result but dissenting from the portion of the decision which he perceived as “allow[ing] complaining foreign countries to preempt a state law.”
He said he would uphold two of the provisions the majority struck down—those allowing police to question people about their immigration status and to make warrantless arrests.
Brewer said yesterday in a statement:
“I remain steadfast in my belief that Arizona and other states have a sovereign right and obligation to protect their citizens and enforce immigration law in accordance with federal statute.”
A spokesperson for her office said that Brewer, Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne, and counsel for the Arizona Legislature will be considering their legal options, including the possibility of seeking en banc review or petitioning the Supreme Court.
The bill’s author, state Sen. Russell Pearce, issued a statement calling yesterday’s ruling “utterly predictable.”
He insisted SB 1070 “is constitutionally sound, and that will be proven when the U.S. Supreme Court takes up this case and makes the proper ruling.”
Pearce characterized the dispute as “a battle of epic proportions” about “a state’s right to enforce the laws of this land and protect its citizens from those who break our laws.”
The Justice Department did not immediately comment.
Parts of the law blocked from taking effect while the case works its way through the courts include a provision requiring police to question people’s immigration status while enforcing other laws if there is a reasonable suspicion they’re in the country illegally. Other provisions that are on hold include: requiring all immigrants to obtain or carry immigration registration papers; making it a state criminal offense for an illegal immigrant to seek work or hold a job; and allowing police to arrest suspected illegal immigrants without a warrant.
The passage of SB 1070 last year reignited an immigration debate that has simmered in Arizona and across the nation for years.
Opponents of the law protested in the streets as it was about to take effect and called for a boycott of the state.
Proponents called the law a long-overdue effort by a state that has been overburdened by illegal immigration and a lack of federal action on the issue.
Opponents of the law hailed the decision and said other states considering similar legislation should take note.
Omar Jadwat, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union Immigrants’ Rights Project, said yesterday’s decision “rightly rejects SB 1070’s assault on the core American values of fairness and equality.”
He suggested “Legislators in other states should pay close attention to today’s ringing condemnation of Arizona’s racial profiling law and refrain from going down the same unconstitutional path.”
Thomas A. Saenz, president and general counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund, similarly posited that the decision “stands as a strong warning to any state that is still considering enacting its own unconstitutional regulation of immigration by replicating or expanding upon Arizona’s ill-fated SB 1070” that such legislation “will only invite costly litigation that will inevitably result in the unconstitutional laws being struck down.”
The case is United States v. State of Arizona, 10-16645.
Copyright 2011, Metropolitan News Company