Immigration Update: Arizona Police Can Now Ask, ‘Papers Please’

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Jack Kurtz / ZUMA PRESS

A handful of protesters waited outside the Sandra Day O'Connor Courthouse in Phoenix Wednesday while lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union and Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund sparred with lawyers from Maricopa County and the State of Arizona over the constitutionality of section 2B of SB 1070, Arizona's tough anti-immigrant law.

Immigration rights advocates were delivered a setback after a federal judge ruled on Wednesday that Arizona can start enforcing the controversial “papers please” provision of its immigration law, which had been upheld by a high profile U.S. Supreme Court decision in June but subsequently blocked by a preliminary injunction filed in district court.

U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton lifted that injunction, clearing the way for Arizona police officials to start questioning the immigration status of people they stop for other violations like speeding and suspect are in the country illegally.

(PHOTOS: Behind the Cover: America’s Undocumented Immigrants)

Critics of the provision had argued that it would lead to systematic racial profiling and civil rights abuses. But Bolton said there is no evidence of that, at least not yet, and that the provision could not be challenged on those grounds before the law actually takes effect.

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, who signed the law in 2010, applauded judge Bolton’s decision to side with the Supreme Court and said she expects thousands of state and local police to begin enforcing the measure in roughly two weeks.

Immigration advocates, though, vowed to continue litigation against the provision based on civil rights challenges and say that the court will eventually strike down the requirement. “The court just gave out a rain check on future challenges on the constitutionality of this law,” Katherine Vargas of the National Immigration Forum told TIME. “I think no state should consider this a green light to follow Arizona’s footsteps. The court was very clear that it was a yellow light—proceed with caution because of the high risk of discriminatory treatment.”

(MORE: Arizona Gov. Defies Obama, Denies Benefits to Undocumented Immigrants)

In essence, civil rights attorneys have an open door to challenge the Arizona law, but they need victims of discrimination to make their case. The National Immigration Law Center, one of the organizations that asked Bolton to block the controversial provision, vowed that it’s only a matter of time before such victims will enable them to return to court. “We’re disappointed but not discouraged by the decision,” said Linton Joaquin, general counsel at NILC. “We’re going to proceed and we’ll be back in court to deal with it.”

Arizona police received intensive training in 2010 on how to implement the Arizona law—preparation that will keep them from discriminating, according to Gov. Brewer. And although some local police organizations initially criticized the measure, arguing that it will cut time and resources spent on combating violent crime, most police groups have since agreed to enforce it if found to be constitutional.

But critics say local police are not equipped to enforce immigration laws and fear the measure will subject thousands of Arizona residents, legal and undocumented, to discrimination based on skin color and a person’s accent. Opponents of the measure say the potential for trouble is magnified in a state as diverse as Arizona, which has a sizeable population of U.S.-born Hispanics.

(VIDEO: Google+ Hangout With Jose Antonio Vargas)

Bolton’s decision mirrors one handed down recently by a federal appeals court in Atlanta. The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld provisions to immigration laws in Alabama and Georgia in August—both modeled on the Arizona law—that allow police authorities to demand immigration documents from people they detain.

The same court, though, sided with immigration advocates when it blocked a provision in Alabama’s law that required public schools to check students’ immigration status. The court also blocked provisions that criminalized the transportation and harboring of undocumented immigrants and a provision that made it a crime for the undocumented to seek work.

In similar fashion, Judge Bolton Wednesday granted a partial victory to pro-immigration groups when she blocked a section of the Arizona law that made it a crime to transport undocumented immigrants within state borders.

MORE: Cover Story: Not Legal, Not Leaving

15 comments
lennon4321
lennon4321 like.author.displayName 1 Like

I wonder what happens when a Canadian, a Brit and a German drive to a fancy hotel in Phoenix...all who have blue eyes, blond hair and white skin..

what happens if their visa's have expired ?......will the AZ Cops also ask for their papers ?

Benjiffy
Benjiffy

That sounds suspiciously like the nazi policies of 1935

Jake Dunn
Jake Dunn

"Anti-Racists" ALL agree that white children only deserve 2 options:

Either embrace their global genocide via massive non-white immigration and forced assimilation targeted at ALL amp; ONLY white countries;

OR

They are a naziswhowanttokillsixmillionjews amp; deserve to be harassed, censored, fired, jailed, intimidated, threatened or beat up until they've learned to embrace their genocide.

Anti-Racist is a code word for Anti-White.

offthefront
offthefront

I am a very liberal-minded person that has been living abroad since Bush got re-elected in 2004. In every Asian and European nation I have been required to carry ID showing that I am a legal, working, and taxpaying guest of that Nation. This year I have been stopped in the street for no other purpose than to show my papers  (in Germany and Switzerland). The German police visited my house to check that I was not harboring any illegal family members (a routine inspection) at which point I had to show my papers and that I was paying taxes.  I have worked hard to be a legal resident in the foreign countries before moving there, why can't we ask the same of our guests in the USA?

Talendria
Talendria

I agree with you.  My husband was a guest in the U.S. for 12 years (now a citizen), and while he's only been asked to show his papers upon re-entering the country or applying for a job, he certainly wouldn't have been offended by further requests.  Rules are rules, as long as they apply to everyone.  I suppose the fear among some in the Hispanic community is that the police will pull them over disproportionately, similar to the African-American community's fear of "driving while black," but I feel these concerns are exaggerated.  Law enforcement is usually pretty good at identifying criminals, and the media is pretty good at taking them to task when they screw up.  I think most people who oppose SB-1070 are simply pro-illegal immigration.

offthefront
offthefront

Your husband's story is part of what makes me proud to be American. A person earns a chance to come to the states by following the rules, makes the most of that opportunity by working hard, and is welcomed into American society.

Thank you for sharing.

SebaKL
SebaKL

I could never understand what was the big deal. Just as you, I have been in Asia, but a little longer, close to 20 years. And whether I'm in Singapore or Malaysia, a legal status is a must for anything, from insurance to driving license. In fact to get driving licence,I need to show my visa. I think it's fair and more than normal, and it's ridiculous to even question such laws. If some one wasn't qualified to get visa in the first place, should not be in the country. Any authority should have the right to check and kick them back where they came from. You have to think of the future of your children, and wondering about future of people who break law to enter country illegally, then work without contributing to tax system, which anyone else can't escape.

scuncic
scuncic

All states should have this law.   I'm not a republican, but I will be voting for one in this coming election and pray to God he will get our immigration laws ENFORCED and free this country of ALL the illegal aliens and their anchor babies!  they have NO RIGHT to be here!

JP_in_AZ
JP_in_AZ

I live in AZ, and am not a fan of this law.  I have seen no reasonable explanation of WHAT would cause the police to suspect someone of being here illegally.  Spanish accent?  Speaking any foreign language?  And how does someone prove they are legal?

That being said, both parties need to come up with a method of allowing people into the country to work, as well as a path to citizenship for the people who are here and wish to stay.

Terry T. Magyar
Terry T. Magyar

If the police legally stop a motor vehicle and the driver has no license, it's a clue he/she may be ILLEGAL. 

We allow more than a million immigrants into the country annually.

We bring in another million people with woek visas, even with 8+% unemployment.

SB1070 states an AZ  driver's license is proof of legal status.  Just as it is in 46 other states.

Daniel Genseric
Daniel Genseric

ASIA FOR THE ASIANS, AFRICA FOR THE AFRICANS, WHITE COUNTRIES FOR EVERYBODY!

Everybody says there is this RACE problem. Everybody says this RACE problem will be solved when the third world pours into EVERY white country and ONLY into white countries.

The Netherlands and Belgium are just as crowded as Japan or Taiwan, but nobody says Japan or Taiwan will solve this RACE problem by bringing in millions of third worlders and quote assimilating unquote with them.

Everybody says the final solution to this RACE problem is for EVERY white country and ONLY white countries to “assimilate,” i.e., intermarry, with all those non-whites.

What if I said there was this RACE problem and this RACE problem would be solved only if hundreds of millions of non-blacks were brought into EVERY black country and ONLY into black countries?

How long would it take anyone to realize I’m not talking about a RACE problem. I am talking about the final solution to the BLACK problem?

And how long would it take any sane black man to notice this and what kind of psycho black man wouldn’t object to this?

But if I tell that obvious truth about the ongoing program of genocide against my race, the white race, Liberals and respectable conservatives agree that I am a naziwhowantstokillsixmillionjews.

They say they are anti-racist. What they are is anti-white.

Anti-racist is a code word for anti-white.

formerlyjamesm
formerlyjamesm

The undocumented population is much more often victim of crime than perpetrator.  I would suggest that the civil rights advocates test the law on that basis.  Have a mugged undocumented worker walk into the police station, report it, and be further victimized by deportation.

The law and order advocates of this clearly discriminatory law don't realize that they are enablers of criminal activity by documented citizens, and denying access to valuable criminal law enforcement information from the undocumented but otherwise lawful population.

max4374
max4374

 Good point.  Thank you.

GoldenGir1
GoldenGir1

Stop with BS like this. Not legal and not leaving? That sentence alone shows what's wrong with the ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS (stop calling them undocumented immigrants)

Why hasn't that Vargas dude been kicked out from the country, and TIME fined for hiring an illegal immigrant?

max4374
max4374

Maybe because the world is a lot more complex, as is human nature, and simplistic solutions have a lot more unforeseen consequences.

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