Groups File Suit Over Arizona Immigration Law

Arizona's immigration law has its first court challenges. Hispanic groups and a police officer have become the first to sue to block the measure, saying it's unconstitutional. Supporters of the law say they're confident it will be upheld.

Copyright © 2010 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

MELISSA BLOCK, host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

MICHELE NORRIS, host:

And I'm Michele Norris. The legal battle over Arizona's tough new immigration law has begun. Today, Latino activists and a police officer filed the first lawsuits to block the measure. It requires local police and sheriff departments to question people they suspect are in the country illegally.

Coming up, we'll hear from an Arizona congressman who's called for an economic boycott of his state. First, NPR's Ted Robbins tells us about the legal challenges that are taking shape.

TED ROBBINS: The main grounds for legal challenges are that Arizona's law, Senate Bill 1070, is a state attempt to regulate immigration, the sole jurisdiction of the federal government.

Mr. THOMAS SAENZ (President, Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund): Indeed if it were not the case that we had only one federal government regulating immigration, we would cease to be one nation.

ROBBINS: That's Thomas Saenz, president of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, or MALDEF. MALDEF, the ACLU and the National Immigration Law Center will file what's expected to be the best-funded legal challenge seeking an injunction to keep the law from taking effect in three months or so.

Saenz stood on the lawn outside of the Arizona capitol in Phoenix. He said there are other problems with the law, as well.

Mr. SAENZ: There are equal protection violations in the direction to law enforcement to engage in profiling based on race, based on language, based on accent, based on illegitimate bases to detain someone on suspicion that they are undocumented.

ROBBINS: State Representative John Kavanaugh of Scottsdale was one of the bill's sponsors. He says the law will survive the legal challenges because police will be trained to implement it in a constitutional manner.

State Representative JOHN KAVANAUGH (Scottsdale, Arizona): We have professional police officers that are already doing this for other crimes. They'll be updated on various factors that they can use.

ROBBINS: Kavanaugh also shrugged off criticism from outside the state. Today, the Denver School District banned its employees from work-related travel to Arizona. A small demonstration was held in front of Wrigley Field in Chicago, where the Arizona Diamondbacks are playing the Cubs. In Washington today, Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid and others released a framework for possible federal immigration legislation.

Meanwhile, one Arizona law enforcement official is not waiting. Later today, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is holding one of his illegal immigrant crime suppression sweeps.

Ted Robbins, NPR News, Phoenix.

Copyright © 2010 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

Support comes from: