Arizona Immigration Law Opponents File Emergency Request

Opponents of Arizona’s immigration law asked a federal appeals court for an emergency order halting enforcement of the “show me your papers” provision that had been left standing by the U.S. Supreme Court in June.

The American Civil Liberties Union, the National Immigration Law Center and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund filed an emergency request yesterday with the U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco to block the provision while they seek to overturn the decision by a federal judge in Phoenix who said the state could enforce the law.

The U.S. Supreme Court in June struck down much of the 2010 law, known as SB 1070, on grounds that states must defer to the federal government on immigration policy. The Supreme Court said the requirement for police checks of immigration status could take effect, while leaving open the possibility of new legal challenges.

The provision requires local law enforcement to check the immigration status of a person they stop if they have a “reasonable suspicion” the individual is an illegal alien.

“The very high likelihood of irreparable harm from any implementation of a law that effectively mandates improper racial profiling by law enforcement officers, who are required to engage in immigration enforcement for which they are not trained, imperils the taking of all possible steps in court to bar such implementation,” Thomas Saenz, president and general counsel of MALDEF, said in a statement.

‘Clear Direction’

U.S. District Judge Susan R. Bolton in Phoenix on Sept. 5 rejected a request by the civil rights groups to temporarily prevent Arizona from enforcing the provision until the courts have ruled whether it violates the U.S. Constitution.

The judge said she wouldn’t ignore the “clear direction” of the U.S. Supreme Court that the provision “cannot be challenged further on its face before the law takes effect.”

The civil rights groups said in yesterday’s filing with the appeals court that Bolton’s decision was “plainly legally erroneous” and that her reading of the Supreme Court’s decision was mistaken.

“This additional legal action is unfortunate but entirely predictable, given that the groups aligned against SB 1070 are determined to do whatever possible to keep this duly-enacted and publicly-supported law from taking effect,” Matthew Benson, a spokesman for Arizona Governor Janice Brewer, said in an e-mailed statement.

Brewer said in a Sept. 5 statement that the provision was the “most critical” to Arizona’s immigration law and that it would take effect “shortly.”

The appeals case is Valle de Sol v. Whiting, 12-17046, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (San Francisco.)

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