The Migration Policy Institute issued an brief analysis of Judge Bolton’s ruling against portions of the Arizona law, Senate Bill 1070. Read below:
Breakdown of the Ruling
Bolton did not enjoin all of SB 1070, which the federal government had requested. Instead, she found that four key provisions warranted a preliminary injunction for two reasons: the government’s arguments that federal law preempted SB 1070 were likely to prevail at the full hearing on the merits, and the government was “likely to suffer irreparable harm” if they were not enjoined.
The four sections Bolton stopped are
* requiring local law enforcement officers to ask about the immigration status of an individual stopped by the police if an officer has a “reasonable suspicion” that the person is an unauthorized immigrant; requiring officers to verify the immigration status of anyone arrested before releasing that person from detention
* making it a state crime for immigrants to fail to carry proof of their immigration status
* making it a state crime for unauthorized immigrants to solicit or perform work
* allowing police officers to arrest without a warrant anyone suspected of having committed a public offense that renders him or her removable from the United States.
Specifically, Bolton found that the provisions related to law enforcement’s mandatory inquiries into immigration status and the warrantless arrests of removable immigrants would impose a “significant burden” on legal residents, many of whom could be wrongfully arrested or detained for extended periods if they could not produce proof of their immigration status.
The judge also noted that the task of determining whether an immigrant has committed a crime rendering him or her removable is a task of “considerable complexity,” and state and local law enforcement officers do not receive adequate training to be able to make such a determination.
She found that the portion of SB 1070 making it a state crime for unauthorized immigrants to solicit or perform work contradicted the federal government’s carefully balanced system of penalties for unauthorized employment.
In agreeing with the federal government that federal law likely preempted four sections of SB 1070, Bolton found that implementing the four provisions would require the federal government to shift resources away from law enforcement priorities.
Finally, Bolton also recognized that allowing SB 1070 to take effect would undermine the ability of the United States to “speak with one voice” on immigration matters, with implications for a uniform national foreign policy.
Bolton declined to block the various other provisions of SB 1070, finding that they were not likely to be deemed preempted during a full hearing on the law. These provisions include
* prohibiting Arizona officials, agencies, and subdivisions from limiting the enforcement of federal immigration law
* making it a crime to hire day laborers if the practice impedes normal traffic flows
* making it illegal to transport, conceal, or harbor unauthorized immigrants
* amending the definitions of crimes of human smuggling.
Ruling in Context
Many immigration experts and constitutional scholars have argued the lawsuit against Arizona was necessary to reassert the federal government’s authority to set a national immigration policy.
Since the 1800s, courts have held that regulating immigration policy is primarily a federal responsibility, though the Supreme Court has recognized that not every state law dealing with immigrants is “a regulation of immigration, and thus per se preempted.”
The argument over what triggers federal preemption in the immigration context will reemerge this fall when the Supreme Court considers the legality of another controversial Arizona law, the 2007 Legal Arizona Workers Act. That law held that the state could suspend or revoke the business licenses of Arizona businesses that knowingly employed unauthorized immigrants.
Like the plaintiffs in the SB 1070 case, those challenging the Legal Arizona Workers Act have asserted that federal law preempts the Arizona law. Briefs from both sides are due to the Court by October.
Some analysts have noted that Bolton’s decision may prevent other states from enacting laws similar to Arizona’s, at least until after the legal challenge facing Arizona is fully resolved.
Obama administration officials have echoed this assessment, calling the decision a powerful “warning sign” to states considering similar legislation.
But while the injunction may well have dampened some enthusiasm for “copy cat” measures among state legislators, the politically charged nature of the immigration debate, combined with the midterm election season, have not extinguished all efforts to introduce such legislation.
Already, lawmakers in Utah, Virginia, and Colorado have announced they will move forward with plans to introduce tough “Arizona-style” bills, regardless of Bolton’s ruling.