A federal judge on Wednesday blocked some of the toughest provisions in the Arizona illegal immigration law, putting on hold the state’s attempt to have local police enforce federal immigration policy.
Though the rest of the law is still set to go into effect Thursday, the partial injunction on SB 1070 means Arizona, for the time being, will not be able to require police officers to determine the immigration status of anyone they stop or arrest.
U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton also struck down the section of law that makes it a crime not to carry immigration registration papers and the provision that makes it a crime for an illegal immigrant to seek or perform work.
In all, Bolton struck down four sections of the law, the ones that opponents called the most controversial. Bolton said she was putting those sections on hold until the courts resolve the issues.
The ruling said the Obama administration, which sought the injunction, is likely to “succeed on the merits” in showing the above provisions are preempted by federal law.
A number of provisions will still go into effect as the case is litigated. Arizona will be able to block state officials from so-called “sanctuary city” policies limiting enforcement of federal law; require that state officials work with federal officials on illegal immigration; allow civil suits over sanctuary cities; and make it a crime to pick up day laborers.
The ruling came just as police were making last-minute preparations to begin enforcement of the law and protesters were planning large demonstrations to speak out against the measure. At least one group planned to block access to federal offices, daring officers to ask them about their immigration status.
But supporters of the policy slammed the court’s decision. Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., called the ruling “misguided.”
“The federal government has a right and a responsibility to enforce existing laws, but when they fail to meet that responsibility, we should not stand in the way of the states that take action to respond to the very real threat of border violence, drug cartels and human smuggling,” he said in a written statement. “There’s nowhere in the Constitution that says a state is limited to what it absolutely won’t do and can be stopped for what it might do and to exercise a judgment against a state that has passed a law that is consistent with existing federal law is beyond absurd.”
Localities inside Arizona were already preparing to interpret the law in different ways. The Tucson Unified School District’s Governing Board approved by a 5-0 vote a policy Tuesday that maintains the district’s stance of not enforcing immigration laws in the district’s schools.
The hardest-line approach was expected in the Phoenix area, where Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio plans his 17th crime and immigration sweep. He planned to hold the sweep regardless of the ruling.