A federal judge, in line with the recent Supreme Court ruling, has allowed Arizona law enforcement to move forward with implementing the “show me your papers” part of their immigration law, SB 1070. It’s just about the only major part of the law that was upheld at the Supreme Court back in June, and the federal court didn’t get in its way either. What they actually ruled, however, was a bit nuanced:
The measure that was upheld, part of a broader law to combat illegal immigration in the state bordering Mexico, home to an estimated 360,000 undocumented immigrants, requires police to check the immigration status of people they stop and suspect are in the country illegally.
In allowing that measure to proceed, District Court Judge Susan Bolton ruled the law’s challengers had failed to show they were likely to prevail on the merits of the case, but noted that the top court had left open the possibility of contesting the provision “after it goes into effect.”
In a mixed ruling, Bolton also issued a preliminary injunction blocking a part of the state law, known as SB 1070, that made it a crime to transport, shield or harbor an illegal immigrant within Arizona’s borders.
I’m a little surprised that Bolton went ahead and said that the challengers weren’t likely to prevail on the merits; it seems a bit prejudicial. The point is that the merits of the case weren’t in front of her yesterday. She was asked to deliver an injunction before the law took effect, and that’s what she refused to do. But after the fact, in the (likely) event of the law violating the civil rights of a host of both undocumented immigrants and legal American citizens, the challengers can come back into court. And they will. Alessandra Soler of the ACLU said in a statement, “The ACLU of Arizona will act on the court’s message and document racial profiling abuses throughout the state as the first step to guaranteeing equal treatment under the law.”
The fight over the law moves to a reporting phase. It’s sad that we have to see the injustice of a “show me your papers” law in action before invalidating it, but that’s what it’s going to take. As Laboni Hoq, the litigation director of the Asian Pacific American Legal Center, put it, “We are disappointed that the court has disregarded the compelling evidence submitted by some of Arizona’s own law enforcement personnel showing that people of color in Arizona will be subject to undue burden if what remains of SB1070 is allowed to go into effect. We will continue to support communities of color in Arizona who must now live in a climate of fear, at least while we continue our fight to dismantle this discriminatory law.”