A federal judge on Wednesday blocked the most controversial parts of Arizona's immigration law from taking effect, delivering a last-minute victory to opponents of the crackdown.
The overall law will still take effect Thursday, but without the provisions that angered opponents — including sections that required officers to check a person's immigration status while enforcing other laws.
The judge also put on hold parts of the law that required immigrants to carry their papers at all times, and made it illegal for undocumented workers to solicit employment in public places. In addition, the judge blocked officers from making warrantless arrests of suspected illegal immigrants.
"Requiring Arizona law enforcement officials and agencies to determine the immigration status of every person who is arrested burdens lawfully-present aliens because their liberty will be restricted while their status is checked," U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton ruled.
While the parts of the law Judge Bolton has restricted probably don't pass constitutional muster (thus the reason for the DOJ lawsuit), I would like to see this entire miserable beast put down for good. So that it would chill the efforts to codify discrimination in other states.
"There is a substantial likelihood that officers will wrongfully arrest legal resident aliens under the new (law)," Bolton ruled. "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."
Well done, Judge Bolton. Now let's see how the bigots respond.
"The other side is going to be claiming victory and doing cartwheels in the street, but the reality is that they have to come down from the euphoria and really look at the law," said Jesse Hernandez, chairman of the Arizona Latino Republican Association, a vocal supporter of the law.
Hernandez, a 49-year-old real estate consultant and first-generation American, said the judge's ruling still gives law enforcement the discretion to help enforce immigration law, it just no longer mandates it. His Blackberry buzzed this afternoon as he made plans with his attorney to file a lawsuit to appeal Bolton's decision.
"This is going to end up at the steps of the Supreme Court," Hernandez said. "There's no question about that. This is not a defeat. If anything, I think it's a victory in that the American public is going to wake up and look at what's going on and say, 'Enough is enough,'" Hernandez said. "This is going to frustrate a lot of Americans."
“I am disappointed by Judge Susan Bolton’s ruling,” Gov. Jan Brewer said in a statement. “This fight is far from over. In fact, it is just the beginning, and at the end of what is certain to be a long legal struggle, Arizona will prevail in its right to protect our citizens.
“I have consulted with my legal counsel about our next steps. We will take a close look at every single element Judge Bolton removed from the law, and we will soon file an expedited appeal at the United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.”
"The president of the United States and this judge just took the side of illegal immigrants against the American citizenry," said William Gheen, president of Americans for Legal Immigration Political Action Committee. "America is going to cry out in anger. Our mission is to channel that anger into political activities designed to rebuke the politicians and business leaders and special interest groups behind this invasion. That includes Obama, John McCain, Republican and Democratic candidates."
More reaction from Texas pols at the TexTrib. Houstonians seem divided ...
ACLU of Texas Executive Director Terri Burke:
“Today’s ruling should serve as a warning that similar legislation in Texas will be met with defeat, either in our Legislature or in the court system. Texas has too many far more pressing issues, including an enormous budget deficit, for the state’s lawmakers to be spending their time and energy debating similar legislation –- not to mention committing millions in taxpayer funds on the inevitable litigation that would follow –- on a law that cannot be enforced.”