Judge Blocks Parts Of Arizona Immigration Law

A federal judge has blocked the most controversial parts of Arizona's new immigration law from taking effect Thursday. Robert Siegel talks to NPR's Ted Robbins about the ruling and where the legal challenges go from here.

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MICHELE NORRIS, host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Michele Norris.

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

And I'm Robert Siegel.

The legal fight is far from over, but the Justice Department has won a victory in Arizona. Today, a federal judge blocked the most controversial provisions of the state's new immigration law. While many parts of the law will still go into effect, the key parts are on hold - at least for now.

Ted Robbins in our man in Arizona, and he joins us now. And Ted, let's start with the provisions that were blocked. What are they, and what was the judge's reasoning for blocking them?

TED ROBBINS: Well, Robert, Judge Susan Bolton blocked four significant portions of the law. First, the requirement that local police and sheriff's deputies check a person's immigration status during a stop if they suspect that the person is in the country illegally. Second, she blocked the part of the law requiring legal residents to carry their papers. Third, the section allowing officers to detain someone if they think the person may be removable from the country; that is, deportable. And finally, she blocked the section making it a crime for illegal immigrants to solicit work in public places.

Now, her reasoning is that those provisions essentially amount to Arizona usurping the federal government's sole right under the Constitution to make immigration law, including the right to require registration papers. And on the detention angle, only an immigration judge can rule someone removable from the country. So she said the law would be a violation of the separation of powers. And in a couple of cases, she said that it would lead to legal residents - a couple of those provisions I mentioned - would lead to legal residents being harassed.

SIEGEL: And reaction so far to the judge's ruling?

ROBBINS: Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, who's been a big champion of this and signed it, of course, she called it a bump in the road - her words - and that Arizona will appeal. And then she said this to reporters after an unrelated speech in Tucson.

Governor JAN BREWER (Republican, Tucson): Now, they've got this temporary injunction. They need to step up, the Feds do, and do the job that they have the responsibility to do for the people of America, and for the people of Arizona.

ROBBINS: Now, other reaction, Robert, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, he said he will continue to enforce other immigration laws, both state and federal. Civil rights and immigration rights groups said theyre happy with the ruling, though they are still protesting tomorrow, which is the day the rest of the law takes effect.

SIEGEL: Well, Ted, you've described those provisions of the law that have been put on hold. What parts of SB1070 - the Arizona immigration law - will, in fact, take effect?

ROBBINS: I think the main one is the requirement that local law enforcement cooperate with federal immigration officials. That's the requirement. That is Arizona's attempt, apparently successful, to stop so-called sanctuary cities, places where police have been told not to arrest illegal immigrants or call the Feds.

SIEGEL: This, though, is going to be appealed now. That is, Arizona will appeal the federal court's stay. How long can this go on?

ROBBINS: Well, you know, I'm expecting an appeal any time to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. After that, there will be a full court case to hear the merits of the arguments. The bill supporters say they'll take it all the way to the Supreme Court, which is where I expect it to end up. So, you know, I'd say we're likely going to be hearing about the case, on and off, for years.

And I should add that Sheriff Arpaio plans an immigration sweep tomorrow in Phoenix, and a number of organizations are going to be out to protest the rest of the law taking effect.

SIEGEL: So that would be the first illustration of the law in effect, in real life, once it takes effect.

ROBBINS: Yeah. He says - well, he's been doing these things for three years using other laws. And he has, in fact, set up a special portion of his tent city jail to house people he arrests under 1070.

SIEGEL: Thanks, Ted.

ROBBINS: You're welcome.

SIEGEL: We'll see what happens. That's NPR's Ted Robbins, speaking to us from Tucson.

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