Judge Blocks Key Parts of AZ Immigration Law

A federal judge has enjoined the most controversial sections of Arizona’s new immigration law from taking effect.

With the law scheduled to take effect Thursday, Judge Susan Bolton put on hold sections of it that call for police to check an individual’s immigration status while enforcing other laws and that require immigrants to carry their legal papers all of the time, according to a New York Times article.

“Preserving the status quo through a preliminary injunction is less harmful than allowing state laws that are likely pre-empted by federal law to be enforced,” Judge Bolton said. Her opinion is available here (with thanks to The Blog of Legal Times). The judge added:

“There is a substantial likelihood that officers will wrongfully arrest legal resident aliens. 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.”

President Obama’s administration had filed a lawsuit in Arizona challenging the law’s constitutionality. The lawsuit  contended the statute could lead to racial profiling and harassment of citizens,  immigrants in the country legally and foreign visitors, the Washington Post reported.

A Justice Department spokeswoman said Wednesday the court “ruled correctly when it prevent key provisions” of the law from going into effect. “States can and do play a role in cooperating with the federal government in its enforcement of the immigration laws, but they must do so within our constitutional framework,” spokeswoman Hannah August said.

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, a Republican, supported the law. She called the judge’s ruling “a temporary bump in the road,” according to a KSAZ Fox 10 report, and said she expected Arizona to appeal it.

Just as Arizona’s law has sparked mass demonstrations from both foes and supporters, it has divided politicians in the state.

Attorney General Terry Goddard, a Democrat who supported the law, said, “Rather than providing the leadership Arizona needs to solve the immigration problem, Jan Brewer signed a bill she could not defend in court which has led to boycotts, jeopardized our tourism industry and polarized our state.” He is running for his party’s nomination for governor.

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