July 28th, 2010
01:16 PM ET
8 years ago

Judge blocks enforcement of parts of Arizona immigration law

Phoenix, Arizona (CNN) - With scant hours to go before a controversial Arizona immigration law goes into effect, a federal judge granted a preliminary injunction Wednesday against the implementation of parts of the law.

There are seven lawsuits seeking to block its implementation. U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton made her ruling on a lawsuit filed by the federal government.

The law, signed by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer in April, requires police to question people about their status if they have been detained for another reason and if there's reason to suspect they're in the United States illegally. It also targets those who hire illegal immigrant laborers or knowingly transport them. It is to go into effect Thursday.

Opponents say the law will lead to racial profiling, which is illegal.

Supporters point out that the law prohibits racial profiling and people cannot be stopped and asked for proof of legal residence based solely on their looks.

In addition to the U.S. Justice Department, the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Coalition of Latino Clergy, the Christian Leaders League of United Latin American Citizens and other individuals or groups have asked the judge to halt the law, commonly known as SB 1070. Bolton heard arguments in the case last week from the Justice Department and the ACLU.

The separate hearings were held in Phoenix, where Bolton sits on the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona.

Bolton's courtroom was packed during the two July 22 hearings and protesters chanted outside throughout the afternoon.

Seven protesters were arrested on civil disobedience charges, according to the National Day Laborer Organizing Network.

The legal arguments revolved around a range of issues, including racial profiling, effective enforcement and possible harm to Arizona's citizens.

Attorneys from the Obama administration presented their case at the second hearing. The administration's challenge contends Arizona's law would usurp federal supremacy on immigration.

Brewer attended the hearing.

Arizona has argued that the federal government has not done a good job of securing the border.

"A law unenforced is no law at all," said state attorney John Bouma.

The American Civil Liberties Union and a coalition of civil rights groups argued earlier in the day that the controversial law amounts to racial
profiling and will have a profound effect if it goes into effect.

"It treats people of color as suspects first, rather than citizens," attorney Karen Tumlin said after the hearing.

Bouma said the law would not treat people unfairly.

"These are hypothetical arguments. Local police are enforcing immigration laws all over the country," he told Bolton.

Those in favor of the law say SB 1070 is consistent with federal law.

They say the law explicitly prohibits racial profiling and they are challenging the legal standing of many of the groups opposed.

They also contend opponents of the law have not been able to show there will be any harm from its implementation.

During the first hearing, Bolton said the law has a section allowing parts to still take effect even if other parts are struck down, according to CNN affiliate KNXV.

Tumlin, managing attorney for the National Immigration Law Center, and other lawyers and foes of SB 1070 repeated assertions that Arizona's law should be rejected.

"We are here to defend the rights of those who cannot stand up for themselves," said Terri Leon, CEO of the Friendly House, which supports the legal challenge by the American Civil Liberties Union.

Bolton heard a challenge to SB 1070 by an Arizona police officer the previous week.

Read the full ruling here [pdf]

Filed under: Arizona • Immigration • issues
soundoff (76 Responses)
  1. Robert Warner

    Now that the law has been ruled unconstitutional, all the Republican Tea Party people should come out in praise of the law's demise. After all, they are always preaching about adherence to the Constitution, right? If they now protest in support of an unconstitutional law, it will be clear that they only support the constitution when it suits them. So, let's see how their responses to this ruling move the needle on the hypocrisy meter.

    July 28, 2010 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  2. LIP

    This could very well be a double edged sword that Arizona has tried to use. If the Feds win this battle and prove that it is their job and only their job to enforce the immigration laws, then Ariozona could turn around and sue the government and demand them to do their job.
    Perhaps there will be a happy ending after all. Finally, the Dems and Repugs will have to stop posturing for the hispanic vote and do their job and send them home where they belong. Let the Mexican government support them.

    July 28, 2010 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  3. Cbass

    There are questions I have with Arizona's case and I wish CNN would research and report on this;

    1. If federal law already allows for an immigration status check when someone is stopped for something else why is the Arizona law necessary?

    2. The Obama administration has deported more illegals than any of the administrations before his so how does Arizona intend to prove that there has been a lack of inforcement?

    July 28, 2010 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  4. VB Lincoln Park NJ

    Good for you!, Your Honor. The sooner this stupid law is voided, the better.

    July 28, 2010 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  5. ST

    "Arizona has argued that the federal government has not done a good job of securing the border". Well, well, Brewer should have sued the Gov. for this and not go after the illegals. Bravo Judge Susan Bolton, you have practised the right judgement.

    July 28, 2010 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  6. Givemeabreak!!!

    I am a registered republican. However, I do NOT vote party line. I voted for both Bushes, Clinton 2x and would have again if possible, and Obama. And although I dispise the current republican congress and senators, I will NOT be voting for Obama in 2012. He is NOT listening to the people of the United States, he IS listening to the people of Mexico. I will let Obama know in 2012 that I DO NOT live in MEXICO.

    July 28, 2010 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  7. Voice of Reason

    This whole episode seems to boil down to, 'If you're Mexican, or look Mexican, then we dont want you here – go Back to Mexico.' I hear about towns passing laws making it illegal to rent housing to so-called 'illegals', and some guy was running for a county utilities commisioner saying that they would turn power and water off to anyone who can't prove they are citizens...

    History proves to us time and again that the root of bigotry is ignorance. My Conclusion: the people of Arizona are ignorant bigots and fools who refuse to learn from the past.

    July 28, 2010 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  8. Georgia, Joe

    Contrary to popular opinion, the federal government, under both Bush and Obama, has put substantial additional resources into the enforcement of border security. The government can continue to put more resources to controlling the borders, but we will never be able to flow of illegals as long as they can find jobs and make a better living coming into this Country. This problem is very similar to the flow of illegal drugs. If a portion of our population didn't create a market for marijuana and cocaine, there would be no reason to smuggle it into the Country. It is the same for illegal workers, if people did not hire illegals to pick their fruits and vegetables, paint and shingle their homes or mow their grass, there would be a much smaller illegal immigration problem.

    July 28, 2010 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  9. Peggy - TX

    The Governor of Arizona is incompetent. She can not even hire someone who could write a law that is constitutional and instead puts out an illegal law that had to be nullified, but not before the negative publicity cost her state big $$$ in repercussions.

    Yes, they have a real problem that needs to be addressed, but that law attacks the harmless working class people while the criminal enterprises continue and fails to do anything about the people that hire illegal.

    President Obama tried to reason with her. He tried to get her support for a federal solution, but she responded defiantly stating that the she would not work with the President under the ridiculous pretext that President Obama, in his first year, was unable to correct a situation that has been out of control for many a presidential administration, including the eight years preceding his term.

    July 28, 2010 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  10. JoeC

    I have the feeling that Arizona will seek relief directly from the Supreme Court, knowing full well that it will get a win on a 5-4 vote. I'm certain that Arizona's governor and legislative majority have gotten a strong signal from the Roberts court majority as to how it will rule. Our form of government has been hijacked by well-financed forces that seek to undo our democracy piece by piece.

    July 28, 2010 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  11. Hey BIg Spender

    I am not a lawyer and cannot debate whether asking someone of their residency status is constitutional but I do know that President Obama vowed to uphold the U.S. Constituion and be our president and in theat vow he promised to protect us- and we cannot be protected without protecting our BORDERS.

    July 28, 2010 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  12. Voice of Reason

    Funny how the most heavily Christian places in our country (AZ, TX, UT) support these laws the most. You can thump your Bible all you want, but it doesnt do you any good if you dont actually READ it.

    July 28, 2010 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  13. sensible Cape Coral Fl

    The only ones who have a RIGHT to complain about immigration are the American Indians.

    July 28, 2010 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  14. USA

    Deport Obama and those in his admnistration who favor and protect the law breaker illegal aliens. Enforce the laws now.

    July 28, 2010 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  15. Dean

    Opponents say the law will lead to racial profiling, which is illegal..................................And not enacting the law will lead to illegal drugs, crimes against citizens and murder, all of which are also illegal.

    Obama this is waste of time and money. This will finally end up before the Supreme Court and they will back the Arizona law.

    July 28, 2010 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  16. beth

    It better be blocked for good.

    July 28, 2010 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  17. cnn always liberal all the time

    i guess it is not illegal to be illegal. my greencard documentation says that i have to carry it with me at all times. nice equal protection under the law. i also have to show id to write a check, and rent a movie . . .

    i guess if its about getting votes for democrats, who cares what the law is.

    July 28, 2010 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  18. KItchen Police

    This was the right decision. Now the federal government needs to act with a comprehensive immigration policy that once and for all times settles this vexing issue.

    July 28, 2010 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  19. Jane

    Liberal politics at it's best. They do not enforce federal laws on the books IIRAIRA 96 (signed into law by Clinton administration in 1996) but the gov now requires mortgage brokers to be fingerprinted and the SEC can now deny FOIA requests under legislation pass by our all mighty congress last week. And Arizona gets their stones cut off for trying to enforce federal policies.

    July 28, 2010 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  20. Ben

    Figures. A Clinton-appointed judge saves the day for Odumbo and his corrupt DOJ. The people won't forget this come November.

    July 28, 2010 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  21. snow

    Well, Arizona will take it through the appeals process but much more important this will come back to bite the demorats in November. When the majority of Americans favor a bill and the demorats oppose it then when the majority of Americans are against something and the demorats pass it, then it is time for the demorats to go. We cannot afford the demorats any longer.

    July 28, 2010 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  22. Paul

    Thank God for stopping the Queen of KKK and her chaperon.. Arpaio

    United we stand, divided we fall.

    Do unto others as you would have them do unto you"

    July 28, 2010 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  23. connie

    let arizona do what they have to because our goverment is doing nothing as of yet. arizona is not racil profiling they are just trying to stop the flow of immigrants who break the law by entering their state and the employers whom hire them knowing they are illegally there. yes our country is made up of immigrants but they all choose to become or became citizens. The majority of Mexicans choose not to and that is why things are the way they are. all you people who think arizona is wrong you dont have to live in the same state or city as they do and see first hand how direspectful they are by not learning english and expecting us to speak spanish. i live in nevada where we cater to them.take a walk to any park or any recreation area and they do not even know what a trash can is. if mexicans want to be in orr country then do as eery other immigrant did become a us citizen.

    July 28, 2010 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  24. Obama "the Devider"

    First he devided the two main parties more than ever; the he devided his own party (Dems) more than ever; then he devided the military more than ever, and now he is deviding the States more than ever....
    ????????????????What next??????????????????????????//

    July 28, 2010 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  25. La Piovra

    A preliminary injunction is not a ruling on the merits. Its granting is a finding that if the law, rule, or policy is found in the future to be wrong, allowing it to go forward until a ruling issues will cause irreparable harm to the moving party. Though a detailed ruling is hard to access this soon, presumably the harm would be to those subjected, validly or not, to detention- including victims, witnesses, and people (some citizens) out jogging while brown; to law enforcement, state and federal, hindered by the deportation of victims and witnesses and the reluctance of others to come forward; and to co-operation in law enforcement with Mexican authorities, who understandably take umbrage at the equation of Mexicanness with undesirability. Such injunctions can be dissolved any time. Notwithstanding which fact, I expect this ruling to incite not only bigoted howls but calls to violence, and I hope Judge Bolton has loyal marshals and a bullet-proof vest.

    July 28, 2010 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
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