Court Rejects Expediation Request

Last Friday, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Arizona Governor Jan Brewer’s request for an expedited review of the recent immigration law, SB 1070, and deffered the date of the hearing to the week of Nov. 1. Arizona’s legal representatives, as well as Governor Brewer, had appealed a ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Susan Bolton that blocked highly debated provisions of the legislative act.

Except for medical emergencies, the law would order officials to detain and confirm the citizenship status of anyone who appears to be an illegal immigrant under “reasonable suspicion.” Moreover, it proposes conditions that would make it a state crime not to carry immigration papers.

Claiming the law permits racial profiling, both the American Civil Liberties Union and the American government opposed the measure and requested that Judge Bolton refute it. Similarly, the plaintiffs pointed out that the law would hamper the police because residents would be more likely to not report crimes and avoid community meetings for fear of prompting investigation of their citizenship status. Denying that the act allows any discrimination, Governor Brewer views the act as a “reasonable and constitutional” proposal that would help Arizona “prevail in its right to protect [its] citizens.”

“It would be difficult for anyone—even a trained immigration officer—to be able to make a determination that someone is present without authorization merely on the basis of a causal encounter such as a traffic stop,” UC Irvine Law Professor Jennifer Chacón, who specializes in immigration policy, said.

In order to address every detail of the highly controversial law, the hearing on July 22 lasted a grueling four hours as the judge raked the act provision by provision. Rather than issue a unilateral response, Bolton opted to grant a preliminary injunction against the most divisive segments of the law while upholding other sections.

According to Judge Bolton, the law would require detentions for “very minor non-criminal violations” including walking a dog without a leash or jaywalking, which would ultimately detract resources from federal priorities. Her ruling forbade police officers from making warrantless arrests of people suspected of being illegal immigrants. Furthermore, the judge voided the conditions that incriminated illegal immigrants for soliciting or fulfilling employment.

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

Ultimately, authority over immigration policy is exclusively a federal power rather than a state right, Bolton ruled.

“Arizona can enforce Arizona law, but it is not for Arizona to enforce federal immigration law,” legal expert and Dean of the UCI law school Erwin Chemerinsky said. In addition, a jumble of policies at various regional levels could interfere with the national immigration enforcement system.

Still, several less controversial sections of the law were passed, including one which prohibits “sanctuary cities,” or cities that refuse to collaborate with immigration enforcement officials. Another measure that went into effect permits citizens to sue agencies that they believe fail to uphold state immigration regulations.

Nevertheless, with emotion running high on all sides, this is hardly the last the public will be hearing of the debate. The court hearing scheduled for early November may even be further pushed to December.

“Whoever loses there is going to seek United States Supreme Court review,” Dr. Chemerinsky said.