Oversight Of Immigration At Heart Of Arizona Ruling Gov. Jan Brewer says her state will ask the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday to let all of its controversial immigration law take effect, a day after a federal judge in Phoenix blocked key parts of the measure.
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Arizona Girds For Long Legal Fight Over Immigration

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Arizona Girds For Long Legal Fight Over Immigration


Arizona Girds For Long Legal Fight Over Immigration

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This is MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Don Gonyea, in for Steve Inskeep.


And I'm Renee Montagne.

In Arizona, the next stop is the appeals court. Arizona Governor Jan Brewer says her state will be there today asking the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to let all of its controversial immigration law take effect. Yesterday in Phoenix, a federal judge blocked key parts of Arizona's law.

NPR's Ted Robbins reports.

TED ROBBINS: Arizona Governor Jan Brewer called the preliminary injunction a bump in the road.

Governor JAN BREWER (Republican, Arizona): This is an injunction. They haven't heard really the merits of the bill. This is just an injunction, a temporary injunction.

ROBBINS: The governor is right. What's next, if the injunction stays in place, is a full court hearing on the merits of the law. Yet, in blocking the heart of the bill, University of Arizona law Professor Gabriel Jack Chin says Judge Susan Bolton's ruling could not have been more clear.

Professor GABRIEL JACK CHIN (Law, University of Arizona): It's basically a complete victory for the United States. She regards immigration regulation as a federal responsibility and a federal power.

ROBBINS: Judge Bolton said the heart of the Arizona law usurp that power. It's SB 1070's requirement that local police and sheriff's deputies determine the immigration status of everyone they arrest and then suspect of being an illegal immigrant. In her ruling, Judge Bolton said that, quote, "burdens lawfully present aliens because their liberty will be restricted while their status is checked."

Professor Chin says Arizona's legislature and governor were not thinking about how the law would affect foreign visitors and legal residents.

Prof. CHIN: They were thinking, as is appropriate for them, about what's best for the state of Arizona. And I guess that's the problem. When we're dealing with things that have an impact on the whole country and an impact on foreign relations, that's why the framers said it can't be about any given state.

ROBBINS: The judge also blocked the provision which made it a state requirement for legal residents to carry their registration papers. The judge said that is something only the U.S. government can do.

She blocked the provision allowing officers to detain someone if they have committed a public offense which makes them removable from the U.S. Again, the judge said, only a federal authority can determine whether someone is deportable.

The last piece of SB 1070 Judge Bolton stopped from taking effect is the portion making it a crime for illegal immigrants to solicit or do work. The judge did let two other provisions barring illegal immigrants from working take effect. She also said nothing about the part of the law requiring local police to cooperate with federal immigration officials. That effectively ends any attempts to create so-called sanctuary cities.

The intent of the law - to get illegal immigrants to leave Arizona on their own - is still intact. Professor Chin believes that's the real message lawmakers were trying to send. In fact, he thinks the law was too vague to do anything else.

Prof. CHIN: The law was drafted diffusely. It was drafted broadly as a test to see what parts of it would stand up and what parts of it wouldn't.

ROBBINS: The law's supporters deny that. One of the bill's sponsors, State Representative John Kavanagh, says Arizona will take it all the way to the Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, while Arizona fights the ruling, Governor Brewer says if only the federal government can make immigration law, it's time to make and enforce it.

Gov. BREWER: They need to step up - the feds do - and do the job that they have the responsibility to do.

ROBBINS: The Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security issued statements welcoming the ruling. Arizona Congressman Raul Grijalva took back his call for people to boycott the state.

Jennifer Allen, of the Border Action Network in Tucson, says the immigrant community she works with is pleased.

Ms. JENNIFER ALLEN (Executive Director, Border Action Network): People are genuinely happy, relieved that there is a great pressure that's been lifted off of people's back.

ROBBINS: Still, opponents of SB 1070 in Tucson and Phoenix plan vigils and demonstrations, some of which have already begun. Some promise civil disobedience against Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's plan to conduct what he calls a crime-suppression operation, targeting illegal immigrants in the Phoenix area on Thursday.

Ted Robbins, NPR News, Tucson.

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