Arizona should be prevented from enacting a law requiring police officers to determine the immigration status of people stopped for questioning, the U.S. Justice Department claims.
Eleven states filed briefs supporting Arizona, and as many as 11 U.S. cities, Mexico and nine Latin American countries filed documents in support of the federal government before a hearing on the constitutionality of the measure that began today at the U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco.
The Justice Department argues U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton in Phoenix acted within her discretion when she ruled in July that the state can’t require police to try to determine whether someone is legally in the U.S. and then detain that person if they suspect he isn’t. The U.S., which sued to block the central provisions of Arizona’s law, argues Bolton’s ruling should stand.
The U.S. seeks to “prevent the Arizona law from interfering with the federal government’s exclusive authority to establish the nation’s immigration policy and priorities, to avoid the creation of a patchwork of state immigration enforcement schemes, and to prevent undue burdens on lawfully present alients,” the government argued in court filings.
Bolton also barred enforcement of other provisions of the law making it a crime for illegal immigrants to solicit or perform work. In addition, the ruling blocked police officers from warrantless arrests of people they think might be illegal immigrants.
Arizona appealed Bolton’s ruling, arguing the Justice Department has failed to demonstrate the federal government’s right to stop it from enforcing the statute.
Responding to briefs from Mexico and Latin America supporting the U.S., Arizona argued in court filings that the “opinions of foreign governments have no bearing on whether a state law providing for cooperative enforcement of federal immigration law in Arizona complies with the United States Constitution.”
The case is United States of America v. State of Arizona, 10-16645, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (San Francisco). The lower court case is United States of America v. State of Arizona, 2:10cv1413, U.S. District Court, District of Arizona (Phoenix).
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