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Arizona Immigration Law Hearing: Court Asked To Block 'Harboring' Ban

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BY THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

SAN FRANCISCO — Lawyers for the federal government say a section of Arizona's 2010 immigration law that prohibits "harboring" people living in the country illegally should be blocked.

A three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals heard arguments Tuesday from attorneys regarding the harboring section of the state's law, which was in effect from July 2010 until a lower court last year barred police from enforcing it.

Lawyers for Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer say the law applies only to people violating other criminal laws who also are aiding or transporting someone in the country illegally.

But U.S. Department of Justice attorney Mark Stern says the federal government is meant to enforce immigration laws, not states, because of its close relationship to foreign policy and other related matters.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

An appeals court is scheduled to hear arguments Tuesday in Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer's bid to let police enforce a minor section of the state's 2010 immigration law that prohibits the harboring of undocumented immigrants.

The harboring ban was in effect from late July 2010 until U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton ruled in September that it was trumped by federal law and barred police from enforcing it. Brewer has asked the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn Bolton's ruling.

Brewer's lawyers argue the ban doesn't conflict with federal policies, is aimed at confronting crime and that the law's opponents haven't shown they have legal standing to challenge the prohibition. The governor's attorneys also say there's no evidence that the ban has been enforced against any people or organizations represented by a coalition of civil rights groups that have challenged the law in court.

The coalition has asked the appeals court to uphold Bolton's ruling, saying the state law is trumped by a federal harboring law that leaves no room for state regulation. The coalition also argues that Bolton has repeatedly confirmed that it has standing to challenge the harboring ban.

Another federal appeals court has barred authorities from enforcing similar harboring bans in Alabama and Georgia.

Arizona's harboring has gotten little, if any, use by police. Two weeks before Bolton shelved the ban, she said during a hearing that she knew of no arrests that were made under the provision.

The prohibition had been overshadowed by other parts of the law, including a requirement that went into effect in September that officers, while enforcing other laws, question the immigration status of those suspected of being in the country illegally.

The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the questioning requirement in July, but also struck down other sections of the law, such as a requirement that immigrants obtain or carry immigration registration papers. The nation's highest court didn't consider the harboring ban.

Last month, the 9th Circuit upheld a decision by Bolton that prohibited police from enforcing a section of the 2010 law that made it illegal for people to block traffic when they seek or offer day labor services on streets.

The U.S. Justice Department, which has challenged Arizona's immigration law in court but isn't a party in Brewer's harboring ban, has successfully petitioned the appeals court to let its lawyers take part in Tuesday's arguments.

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