Judge Says No to Controversial Arizona Immigration Law


A federal judge has blocked some of the most controversial parts of SB 1070, the Arizona law passed and signed into law by Gov. Jan Brewer in April of this year. According to NPR:

The overall law will still take effect Thursday, but without the provisions that angered opponents — including sections that required officers to check a person’s immigration status while enforcing other laws.

The judge also put on hold parts of the law that required immigrants to carry their papers at all times, and made it illegal for undocumented workers to solicit employment in public places. In addition, the judge blocked officers from making warrantless arrests of suspected illegal immigrants.

“Requiring Arizona law enforcement officials and agencies to determine the immigration status of every person who is arrested burdens lawfully-present aliens because their liberty will be restricted while their status is checked,” U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton ruled.

Opponents of the law (including Cardinal Mahoney, by the way) have actively protested what they see as the racism and xenophobia inherent in the law; including many women’s organizations (and labor organizations) like the National Coalition for Immigrant Women’s Rights, the National Domestic Workers Alliance, Momsrising.org, the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health and more who recorded the stories of immigrant women and children in Arizona, protested and testified in front of Congress about the many ways laws like these have unique negative impacts on immigrant women and children. From an earlier post I wrote about this, the stories of women and children living in Arizona make it near impossible to understand how laws like this one are anything more than legalized abuse:

Stories like the one of a nine-year old girl who told delegates she arrived home from school one day to find her parents gone – for three months. Stories of single mothers who say they are now terrified, as primary caretakers of their children, that in the wake of SB 1070 they will no longer be able to keep their children safe – to defend them from local law enforcement. Stories of women who, as Grace Chang, author and scholar on immigrant women and one of the delegates put it, have suffered “outrageous and brutal abuses that have been occurring long before the passage of this law”; abuses like being violently beaten by local law enforcement after being rounded-up in “sweeps” and being sexually assaulted by immigration officials.

Some sections of the law will remain as is. From The Wall Street Journal:

Among the provisions left intact, one would make it a crime to impede traffic while stopping a car to pick up illegal-immigrant day laborers, while another would stiffen penalties for existing crimes such as knowingly hiring illegal immigrants.

And from Think Progress:

However, a few problematic sections remain including the one which allows Arizona residents to sue local police if they believe they are not enforcing what remains of SB-1070 and the creation of a separate crime for knowingly transporting an undocumented immigrant under any circumstance, even in an emergency.

Think Progress also reminds us that the judge in this case, Judge Susan Bolton, was recommended for nomination by Republican Senator Jon Kyl (AZ), a proponent of the law (although she was appointed by President Clinton). You remember Kyl, right? He was the senator who didn’t feel maternity care needed to be covered by all private insurance plans since he didn’t need maternity care himself. It took Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) to remind him that his mother probably did. 

Judge Bolton, in issuing her ruling, said,

“By enforcing this statute, Arizona would impose a ‘distinct, unusual and extraordinary’ burden on legal resident aliens that only the federal government has the authority to impose.”

Organizations like the National Coalition for Immigrant Women’s Rights (NCIWR) and the National Domestic Workers Alliance have yet to issue press releases and there hasn’t been word from other immigrant women-focused groups on their take but as soon as we hear, I’ll post on it.

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