Court Hears Challenge To Arizona's Immigration Law
RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:
This is MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. Good morning. I'm Renee Montagne.
MARY LOUISE KELLY, Host:
The first legal challenge to Arizona's new immigration law began playing out yesterday in a Phoenix courtroom. Federal Judge Susan Bolton heard the arguments, and she's going to hear many more. Bolton is set to hear six of the seven lawsuits filed to block the measure. NPR's Ted Robbins was at yesterday's hearing and has this report.
TED ROBBINS: Salgado, the plaintiff, is David Salgado, a Phoenix police officer who does not want to enforce the new law because he thinks it's unconstitutional. He also fears being disciplined or fired if he doesn't enforce the law. He brought suit, along with the organization Chicanos Por La Causa, as he told reporters, because he thought it was the right thing to do.
DAVID SALGADO: When this law was created, when it was established and when it signed, I knew I had to take a step of faith on blocking this law because I had a duty to do that, as far as a citizen of Arizona and a Phoenix police officer.
ROBBINS: The defendant Brewer is, of course, Jan Brewer, Arizona's governor. She was not at the courthouse, but her lawyer, John Bouma, told reporters that the law should be allowed to take effect so people can see how it works.
JOHN BOUMA: People can spin all their horror tales - and they all have - but what's really important is what actually happens, and the statute can always be examined in light of how it's actually implemented.
ROBBINS: Judge Bolton asked a lot of questions in this hearing of both sides, but her sharpest questioning came over a section of the law which requires police to hold suspects until federal immigration authorities determine their status. Here's how Salgado's attorney, Stephen Montoya, put it to reporters.
STEPHEN MONTOYA: This law expressly allows law enforcement agencies to detain someone indefinitely until they prove they're an American citizen.
ROBBINS: Judge Bolton used herself as an example. She asked the state's attorney, John Bouma, what would happen if she were stopped for speeding, a minor offense, and an officer thought she might be in the country illegally. Would she be detained by the side of the road or taken to jail until the feds said she was a citizen? Bouma says Arizona's police officers know what to do.
BOUMA: We have 15,000 well-qualified police officers out there who make these kinds of decisions everyday on roadside stops and elsewhere.
ROBBINS: Ted Robbins, NPR News.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.