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Update on the Arizona Immigration Law Debate

Apr 12, 2011 | Arizona immigration law

On April 23, 2010, Arizona governor Jan Brewer signed into law Arizona Senate Bill 1070, citing rise in violence due to illegal immigration into her state.  The law requires police to determine whether a person is in the United States legally.  It also orders immigrants to carry their noncitizen registration documents at all times and requires police to question people if there’s reason to suspect they’re in the United States illegally.

On July 6, 2010, the Obama Administration filed a lawsuit against Arizona in a federal district court, seeking to overturn the state’s new immigration law on the basis that it violated the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution.  The Supremacy Clause mandates that all state judges must follow federal law when a conflict arises between federal law and either the state constitution or the state law of any state.  The Obama Administration argued in its lawsuit that the Arizona state law violated the federal law, the Immigration and Nationality Act (“INA”), which establishes the laws relating to U.S. immigration.  In its lawsuit, the government also asked the district court to issue an injunction against implementation of the Arizona immigration law.

The district court granted the Government’s request for an injunction of the Arizona immigration law, agreeing with the Obama Administration, that the law most likely violated the Supremacy Clause.  The court blocked the requirement that authorities examine immigration status of those they detain.  It also blocked the provision requiring immigrants to carry identification papers that would establish the legal residency of those stopped.

The State of Arizona appealed the district’s court ruling to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, arguing that its immigration law did not preempt the federal immigration laws in the INA.

On April 11, 2011, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued an 87-page decision, holding that the district court judge did not abuse her discretion in enjoining the certain provisions of the Arizona immigration law from going into effect.

The case will now return to the district court for oral arguments and a decision on the merits of the parties’ positions.

Keep checking back here for more updates as they become available!

Ruchi Thaker