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Now that Arizona's 'papers please' law has green light, what's next?

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.

What happens next? The U.S. Department of Justice and Arizona will now have 10 days to work out an order that will lift the prior injunction blocking Section 2 (B), which means that local police officers will soon be able to check the immigration status of people they stop, detain or arrest if there is “reasonable suspicion” the person is in the country illegally.

And that's when the next wave of legal challenges is apt to begin.

The Supreme Court ruled in June that as written, Section 2(B) did not conflict with federal law; however, the justices said it remains to be seen if it will violate federal law once in practice.

The most likely challenges will come in the form of civil rights and racial profiling complaints, although there could be some as well from pro-SB 1070 citizens suing jurisdictions that don't enforce the law, as it allows them to do. The state has provided police with some training on SB 1070, but immigrant advocates are already preparing for complaints. From USA Today:

...the Supreme Court explicitly left the door open to arguments that the law leads to civil rights violations. Attorneys would need actual victims to make that case.

Civil rights activists are preparing to scour the state for such victims. Lydia Guzman, who runs Respect/Respeto, a Phoenix group that tracks racial profiling, said volunteers at the organization's call center have already been told to listen for new complaints when the requirement goes into effect.

"We're watching and we're looking for cases," she said.

While Bolton went with the Supreme Court's decision on Section 2(B), she did grant an injunction against a statute making it illegal to harbor people suspected of being in the country illegally.

Meanwhile, the "papers please" provision could be implemented within several days.