The most contested provision of Arizona's SB 1070 anti-illegal immigration law has been cleared to go into effect, although chances are the legal saga surrounding the 2010 law is far from over.
U.S District Judge Susan Bolton denied a request yesterday for another injunction blocking SB 1070's Section 2 (B), the controversial so-called "papers please" provision allowing state and local police officers to check for immigration status if they suspect a person is the country illegally. It was the only one of four contested sections that was upheld, with caveats, by the U.S. Supreme Court in June.
Bolton was the same judge who issued an injunction blocking these provisions in July 2010, just before the law was partly enacted; the case went back to her following the high court's decision. At the same time, civil rights and other groups had renewed a legal challenge based on racial profiling concerns.
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An anti-HB 87 protest in Atlanta, Georgia, July 2011
While the same judge who blocked key provisions of SB 1070 in Arizona weights if and when its most controversial section will be enforced, the trickle-down from the U.S. Supreme Court's decision on SB 1070 in June has been taking effect in other states.
Earlier this week, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled both against and in favor of contested provisions of SB 1070-style laws in Alabama and Georgia, two of five states that have followed Arizona's lead since 2010. Here's a quick rundown of what held and didn't.
Alabama: Perhaps the most hotly contested provision of Alabama's HB 56 was one that would have required public schools to verify students' immigration status. The appeals court ruled this provision unconstitutional. At the same time, it upheld a provision similar to Arizona's still-contested Section 2(B), the so-called "papers please"provision that would allow local law enforcement to check the immigration status of people they suspect are in the country illegally and which was upheld by the Supreme Court, with the caveat that it could still face other challenges. From the Montgomery Advertiser:
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The Arizona State Capitol building in Phoenix
The recent crush of state laws related to immigration continues to slow, and just as Arizona's SB 1070 helped fuel it, the legal trajectory of the trendsetting 2010 anti-illegal immigration law has helped slow it down.
The National Conference of State Legislatures, which keeps tabs on this, announced in a report today that the number of immigration-related state laws introduced and enacted so far this year has "dropped markedly" from previous years. Between Jan. 1 and June 30 of this year, lawmakers in 46 states and the District of Columbia introduced a total of 948 bills and resolutions related to immigrants and refugees, compared with 1,592 in the first half of last year.
That is a 40 percent drop altogether. Similarly, the number of immigration-related state measures enacted has dropped: In the first half of 2012, 41 state legislatures enacted 114 immigration-related bills and adopted 92 resolutions, 20 percent fewer measures than the 257 state laws and resolutions enacted in the first half of 2011.
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A protester holds a union anti-SB 1070 sign, May 1, 2010
Late last month, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down three of four controversial provisions of Arizona's SB 1070 anti-illegal immigration law that had been temporarily blocked by a lower court. But they upheld the most contentious one, Section 2(B), which empowers local cops to check the immigration status of people they stop or detain if they decide there is "reasonable suspicion" the person is in the country illegally.
So given the court's decision, why, then, is there a renewed legal challenge to Section 2(B) before it takes effect? Like most of the legal wrangling that has surrounded SB 1070, it's complicated.
When they issued their ruling on SB 1070 in late June, the justices made clear that Section 2(B) was not entirely out of the woods. While it did not on its face appear to conflict with federal law - the basis of the federal legal challenge that eventually led SB 1070 to the high court - there was no guarantee that it would not present a conflict once implemented, the justices ruled.
Ever since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Arizona's SB 1070 late last month, striking down three provisions of the state anti-illegal immigration law while upholding its most controversial one, other states with SB 1070-style laws have been weighing how the decision applies to them.
The justices ruled on whether four contested sections of the 2010 Arizona law encroached on the federal government’s ability to set immigration policy, and thus were preempted by federal law. The one provision the high court did not strike down: Section 2(B), which empowers local police to check the immigration status of people they stop, detain or arrest if there is “reasonable suspicion” the person is in the country illegally. The court ruled that, as written, this did not conflict with federal law, although it remains to be seen if it will violate federal law in practice.