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U.S. Appeals Court Rules Against Arizona’s Immigration Law

Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

zz_andrea_nill-e1291085868161Back in July, federal district court judge Susan Bolton imposed a preliminary injunction on parts of the controversial immigration law passed by Arizona last year, SB-1070. She enjoined provisions relating to warrantless arrests of suspected undocumented immigrants and document requirements and also struck down the requirement that police check the immigration status of anyone they stop, detain, or arrest if they reasonably suspect the person is in the country illegally. Bolton argued that “the United States is likely to succeed on the merits in showing that…[the enjoined provisions] are preempted by federal law” and the “United States is likely to suffer irreparable harm” in the absence of an injunction.

A federal appeals court agreed. Today, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Bolton’s preliminary injunction on several major provisions of SB-1070. In their stinging legal critiques, 9th Circuit Judges Richard Paez and John Noonan wrote in their concurring opinions that each of the provisions blocked by Bolton are outright “unconstitutional” and that SB-1070 is preempted by federal law and foreign policy:9thcircuit

By imposing mandatory obligations on state and local officers, Arizona interferes with the federal government’s authority to implement its priorities and strategies in law enforcement, turning Arizona officers into state-directed DHS agents. […] [T]he record unmistakably demonstrates that S.B. 1070 has had a deleterious effect on the United States’ foreign relations, which weighs in favor of preemption. […]

Finally, the threat of 50 states layering their own immigration enforcement rules on top of the INA [Immigration and Nationality Act] also weighs in favor of preemption.

The 9th Circuit Court probably won’t have the final say on the issue. Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) has pledged to take her case all the way to the Supreme Court. SB-1070?s sponsor, state Senate President Russell Pearce (R), has entered the legal challenge now following a recent decision by the U.S. District Court to allow the Arizona State Legislature to intervene as a defendant in the Department of Justice’s lawsuit against Brewer and her state. Today also happens to be the deadline for U.S. Justice Department lawyers to file an answer to Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer’s countersuit that accuses the federal government of failing “to live up to its Constitutional duty to protect Arizona against invasion and domestic violence,” amongst other things.

In his opinion, Noonan recognized that SB-1070 has “become a symbol.” Noonan noted that, “For those sympathetic to immigrants to the United States, it is a challenge and a chilling foretaste of what other states might attempt.” The 9th Circuit’s decision comes as several states around the country are in the final stages of approving similar “copycat” pieces of legislation.

About the Author: Andrea Nill is an immigration researcher/blogger for ThinkProgress.org and the Progress Report at the Center for American Progress Action Fund.

This blog originally appeared in the Wonk Room on April 11, 2011. Reprinted with Permission.

Utah Governor Gary Herbert Signs Immigration Bills, Distances State From Arizona Approach

Monday, March 21st, 2011

zz_andrea_nill-e1291085868161On March 15th, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert (R) signed off on a bundle of four immigration bills which includes proposals that were specifically introduced as proactive alternatives to Arizona’s harsh immigration law. One of the measures would allow undocumented immigrants who meet certain requirements to carry a state-issued guest worker permit. A separate bill would create a migrant worker partnership with Mexico. Another piece of approved legislation will allow Utahns to sponsor migrants wanting to work or study in the state.

GOP delegate coordinators have dedicated a significant amount of time and resources to pushing back against the proposal with robo-calls and a petition. “As GOP delegates, we support the governor and everything he’s done up until now,” said Brandon Beckham, a Utah County GOP delegate who opposes guest worker and sponsorship proposals. “If he signs this bill, I don’t think he’s going to muster enough delegate support to make it past convention.” On the other side of the spectrum, some labor advocates worry that the guest worker permits will “give employers cheap labor without providing additional protections for workers or a path to citizenship.” “It gives illegal immigrants false hope because it makes them think they could become legal,” Ana Avendano of the AFL-CIO said. “But they’re still illegal, and could be deported.”

Gary Herbert

Gary Herbert

Meanwhile, several Latinos in Utah have been organizing against the other bill that Herbert signed into law today — HB-497. The legislation is a “watered down” version of Arizona SB-1070 that gives Utah police officers the authority to investigate a person’s immigration status if they’re suspected of felony or misdemeanor crimes.

Litigation has been threatened by both sides — immigration restrictionists who argue that the guestworker and sponsorship bills violate federal law and immigration advocates who say that the enforcement-only bill is unconstitutional. While it’s pretty monumental that such a conservative state has enacted a set of proposals that aren’t just aimed at making life completely miserable for undocumented immigrants, both sides of the debate are going to have a tough time arguing that the bill they oppose is preempted by federal law while maintaining that the one that they support is not.

Yet, maybe that’s the whole point. Utah Senate President Michael Waddoups (R) told the Salt Lake Tribune that the signing of the bills is “putting the federal government on notice.” “They’ve been on the sidelines way too long,” Herbert said. “They need to get in the game.” In fact, state officials are reportedly talking with the White House and congressional officials about using the “Utah Solution” as a model for comprehensive immigration reform at the federal level. The laws won’t go into effect for another two years. The U.S. Congress could spend that time to enact a legalization and a worker program that would render all of these state and local initiatives null.

About the Author: Andrea Nill is an immigration researcher/blogger for ThinkProgress.org and the Progress Report at the Center for American Progress Action Fund.

This blog originally appeared on Wonk Room on March 15, 2011. Reprinted with permission.

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