Phoenix, Arizona, July 28, 2010 -- As a threatening hurricane that weakens before reaching its path of destruction, the potential crackdown effects of Arizona immigration law SB 1070 were at least temporarily diluted by U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton.
Judge Bolton's ruling does not eliminate the entire SB 1070 law, rather prevents its most damaging provisions against undocumented immigrants from going into effect in less than 24 hours.
The judge's ruling provides some relief for immigration reform advocates and the Arizona's undocumented population, and creates a lengthy legal process that will likely disrupt the intended general punch of the controversial law.
The delays placed on parts of SB 1070 by Judge Bolton virtually leave Arizona in the same legal scenario for immigrants who lack legal status, plus some exceptions.
The key sections of the law like the one that would have required immigrants to carry their identification documents at all times, the solicitation of employment in public places, and the provision for warrantless arrests of individuals suspected of being illegally in the country have been put indefinitely on hold, and until the cases against SB 1070 are fully analyzed in court.
SB 1070, Only a Link in a Long Chain of Laws
How would have things been different after the full implementation of Arizona's Law SB 1070? Was the state going to be free of undocumented immigrants? Would Arizona have been on the path of prosperity by getting rid of those blamed for the drainage of social resources and employment opportunities?
Even with the full implementation of SB 1070, for years, the quest of politicians like Senator Russell Pearce has been to crackdown on what he, others, and a large part of society see only as a nuisance and a burden to public budgets. Each new including SB 1070 law seem to prove the ineffectiveness of this type of legal measures.
Even long before SB 1070 and through other direct and similar legislation, Arizona's government has been trying to systematically limit the already narrow ability of immigrants to prevent them from obtaining employment, having access to public services and programs, or applying for basic documents such as a driver license.
At least in writing, even employers have been the aim of strict laws to prevent them from hiring illegal immigrants. Other laws have been directed to the human smugglers and the immigrants themselves.
When it comes to the enforcement of some of these laws, Arizona has witnessed since 2007 regular raids to arrest undocumented immigrants conducted by agencies like the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office (MCSO). This police force and others in Maricopa and other counties have been more or less active in arresting immigrants using local laws or in applying programs like the 287 (g), a federal partnership with federal authorities.
While the focus has been placed on the MCSO -likely due to the celebrity-like persona of the office's head Sheriff Joe Arpaio-, police departments of cities like Phoenix or Mesa have also been actively enforcing immigration-related laws, busting "safe houses," detaining immigrants and then transferring them to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
With at least half of the legislative measures enacted and half of the local enforcement efforts, Arizona should have been a place with much less problems attributed to illegal immigration. However, up until the spring of this year Arizona laws have not been effective in deterring the influx of unauthorized immigrants.
With today's legal action taken by Judge Bolton, SB 1070 proves to be even a more controversial and polarizing law, and demand the full and immediate action of the federal government to fix the long broken federal immigration structure.
In a prepared press release, U.S. Senators John McCain and Jon Kyl expressed disappointment with Judge Bolton's decision.
"We are deeply disappointed in the court's ruling today and disagree with the court's opinion that the Arizona's law will unduly 'burden' the enforcement of federal immigration law."
The senators called it a "wasting of tax payer's resources" the filing of a lawsuit against the state of Arizona, saying the Obama Administration "should have focused its efforts on working with Congress instead."
Catholic Bishops in Arizona commended Judge Susan Bolton for "enjoining some of the more problematic provisions of SB 1070." The conjunct statement said that they "will continue our advocacy against the provisions of SB 1070 and will monitor the implementation of the provisions allowed by the ruling."
Nina Perales, Regional Counsel Southwest Region for MALDEF in a prepared statement said: "Today's ruling guts the unconstitutional immigration scheme that Arizona wanted to establish. The judge's decision further shows that SB 1070 is an unconstitutional attempt by the state to take over the federal immigration system within Arizona's borders. States around the nation should take heed that any similar efforts will not succeed."
U.S. Senate Candidate J.D. Hayworth (R-AZ) who is running against Senator McCain said: "Judge Bolton has gutted the Arizona law. She has put a hold on major sections of SB 1070 designed to eradicate sanctuary cities and require law enforcement officers to determine the immigration status of those who commit crimes in our state."
In a written statement, Department of Homeland Security Deputy Press Secretary Matt Chandler expressed: "The court's decision to enjoin most of SB1070 correctly affirms the federal government's responsibilities in enforcing our nation's immigration laws. Over the past eighteen months, this Administration has dedicated unprecedented resources to secure the border, and we will continue to work to take decisive action to disrupt criminal organizations and the networks they exploit. DHS will enforce federal immigration laws in Arizona and around the country in smart, effective ways that focus our resources on criminal aliens who pose a public safety threat and employers who knowingly hire illegal labor, as well as continue to secure our border."
Carlos Garcia from the Arizona-based Puente Movement, one of the seven individuals arrested for an act of civil disobedience last week, said: "In Maricopa County, we've been living under 1070 conditions with Sheriff Arpaio for years. Many are celebrating today because some sections are being blocked. While they can breathe a sigh of relief for the minimal injunction, our breath catches with the added boots on our communities' necks."