Arizona Immigration Law (SB 1070)
Publicado el 11 de abril de 2011
por The New York Times en The New York Times, 11 de Abril de 2011
In April 2010, Arizona
adopted the nation`s toughest law on illegal immigration, provoking a
nationwide debate and a Justice Department lawsuit. On July 28, one day before
the law was to take effect, a federal district court judge struck down its most
controversial provisions, including sections that called for officers to check
a person`s immigration status while enforcing other laws and that required
immigrants to carry their papers at all times. In April 2011, the United States
Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled against the
State of Arizona and let stand the lower court`s decision.
The law, known locally as SB1070 or Senate
Bill 1070, was aimed at discouraging illegal immigrants from entering or
remaining in the state. It coincided with economic anxiety and followed a
number of high-profile crimes attributed to illegal immigrants and smuggling,
though federal data suggest that crime is falling in Arizona, as it is nationally, despite a
surge of immigration. The law`s supporters said it reflected frustration over
inaction by the federal government, while critics said it would lead to
harassment of Hispanics and turn the presumption of innocence upside down.
The legislated requires police officers, “when practicable,” to
detain people they reasonably suspect are in the country without authorization
and to verify their status with federal officials, unless doing so would hinder
an investigation or emergency medical treatment. The law also makes it a state
crime — a misdemeanor — to not carry immigration papers. In addition, it allows
people to sue local government or agencies if they believe federal or state
immigration law is not being enforced.
In July 2010, just days before the law was to take effect, Judge Susan
Bolton of Federal District
Court issued an injunction blocking parts of it.
Brewer, a Republican who supports the crackdown on immigrants, filed an
appeal seeking to have the injunction lifted.
After the appeals court rejected the state’s request in April 2011 and
issued a lengthy decision indicating that
it believed the state had overstepped its authority, State Senator Russell K.
Pearce, a Republican who is the principal sponsor of the law, remained defiant,
saying the issue would ultimately be decided by the Supreme
In her ruling in July 2010, Judge Bolton in Phoenixsaid that issuing a preliminary
injunction barring enforcement of some elements of the law “is less
harmful than allowing state laws that are likely preempted by federal law to be
“There is a substantial likelihood that officers will wrongfully arrest
legal resident aliens,” she wrote. “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.”
Governor Brewer and the Arizona
attorney general, Tom Horne, vowed to keep fighting for the law. “I believe the
Ninth Circuit decision will be overturned by the United
States Supreme Court, and I pledge to make every possible effort to achieve
that result,” Mr. Horne said.
law had inflamed the national debate over immigration and provoked an outcry
across the border. Mexico`s
Foreign Ministry has said that it worried about the rights of its citizens and
relations with Arizona.
Cardinal Roger M. Mahony of Los
Angeles said the authorities` ability to demand
documents was like “Nazism.”
President Obama had criticized the bill shortly before Gov. Brewer signed
it. The Arizona
law, he said, threatened “to undermine basic notions of fairness that we
cherish as Americans, as well as the trust between police and our communities
that is so crucial to keeping us safe.”
A Dormant Issue Revived
Immigration reform had been in effect a dormant issue nationally until the
passage of the Arizona
law in April 2010. Republicans and Democrats had agreed for years on the need
for sweeping changes in the federal immigration laws. President George W. Bush
for three years pushed for a bipartisan bill before giving up in 2007 after an
outcry from voters opposed to any path to legal status for illegal aliens.
But immigration reform came back to life in April 2010 after the passage of
statute. About 20 other states are considering similar laws, and Democratic
governors have complained to the White House of the political fallout of
opposing the Arizona
After the Arizona law passed, a coalition of top Senate Democrats laid out
the contours of a proposed overhaul of immigration laws — and appealed to
Republicans to join them in pursuing it — even as doubts mounted about the
prospects of winning approval of legislation in 2010.
A Federal Challenge
The Justice Department on July 6 had filed a lawsuit in federal court in Phoenixto challenge the
state law, contending that controlling immigration is a federal responsibility.
Polls, however, suggest that a majority of Americans support the Arizona law, or at least
the concept of a state having a strong role in immigration enforcement.
The lawsuit had been expected since mid-June 2010, when Obama administration
officials first disclosed they would contest the legislation, adding to several
other suits seeking to have courts strike it down.
The federal government added its weight to the core argument in those suits,
which also had argued that the Arizona
law usurps powers to control immigration reserved for federal authorities. The
main suit was brought by the American Civil Liberties Union, the Mexican
American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and other civil rights groups.
The mere fact of being present without legal immigration status is a civil
violation under federal law, but not a crime.
The Justice Department contended that the law would divert federal and local
law enforcement officers by making them focus on people who may not have
committed crimes, and by causing the “detention and harassment of
authorized visitors, immigrants and citizens.”
The Justice Department suit was also aimed at stemming a tide of similar
laws under consideration in other states. “The Constitution and the
federal immigration laws do not permit the development of a patchwork of state
and local immigration policies throughout the country,” the suit says.
White House officials said Mr. Obama was not involved in the Justice
Department`s decision to sue. But the suit came after steps by Mr. Obama to
frame the immigration debate in terms that will favor Democrats in advance of
midterm elections in November, including a speech in July when he restated his commitment
to overhaul legislation that would give legal status to millions of illegal
On July 28, Judge Bolton in Phoenixblocked
central provisions of the Arizona
law from taking effect. The judge broadly vindicated the Obama administration`s
high-stakes move to challenge the state`s law and to assert the primary
authority of the federal government over state lawmakers in immigration
lawyers had contended that the statute was written to complement federal laws. Judge
Bolton, who was appointed by President Bill Clinton in 2000, rejected that
argument, finding that four of its major provisions interfered or directly
conflicted with federal laws.
police, she wrote, would have to question every person they detained about
immigration status, generating a flood of requests to the federal immigration
authorities for confirmations. The number of requests “is likely to
impermissibly burden federal resources and redirect federal agencies away from
priorities they have established,” she wrote.
While opponents of the Arizona
law had said it would lead to racial profiling, the Justice Department did not
dwell on those issues in its court filings. But Judge Bolton brought them
forward, finding significant risks for legal immigrants and perhaps American
citizens. There is a “substantial likelihood that officers will wrongfully
arrest legal resident aliens,” she wrote, warning that foreign tourists
could also be wrongly detained.
The law, she found, would increase “the intrusion of police presence
into the lives of legally present aliens (and even United States citizens), who will
necessarily be swept up” by it.
The federal ruling shifted the political pressure back onto President Obama
to show that he can effectively enforce the border, and to move forward with an
overhaul of the immigrations laws, so that states will not seek to step in asArizona did.
Lawmakers` Second Round
In February 2011, Arizona
legislators were crafting a sweeping restrictions that would make the 2010 bill
look watered down. In it, illegal immigrants would be barred from driving in
the state, enrolling in school or receiving most public benefits. Their
children would receive special birth certificates that would make clear that
the state does not consider them Arizona
Some of the bills, like those restricting immigrants’ access to schooling
and right to state citizenship, flout current federal law and are being put
forward to draw legal challenges in hopes that the Supreme
Court might rule in the state’s favor. Similar legal challenges are likely
to come in response to the latest round of legislation, some of which cleared a
key Senate committee in February after a long debate that drew hundreds of
protesters, some for and some against the crackdown.
The measures would compel school officials to ask for proof of citizenship
for students and require hospitals to similarly ask for papers for those
receiving non-emergency care. Illegal immigrants would be blocked from
obtaining any state licenses, including those for marriage. Landlords would be
forced to evict the entire family from public housing if one illegal immigrant
were found living in a unit. Illegal immigrants found driving would face 30
days in jail and forfeit the vehicle to the state.
Some state lawmakers said their constituents were furious over the Obama
administration’s lawsuit challenging the last immigration law and wanted the
state to continue pressing the issue. Gov. Brewer said the state would
file a countersuit against the federal government accusing it of not enforcing
immigration laws. The hope is that the Supreme Court will decide the matter in
favor the states.
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