Judge Blocks Key Parts of Arizona Law

Federal Judge Susan Bolton waited until the last day before Arizona implemented SB 1070, the state’s illegal immigration law, to issue a ruling that both denied the federal government’s request for a complete injunction and blocked some of the law’s provisions from taking effect.

Bolton’s ruling is seen as a partial victory for both sides and a guarantee that SB 1070 is in for a lengthy and expensive path heading to a U.S. Supreme Court review. There was cause for celebration and disappointment for both sides.

The Department of Justice’s argument that immigration is solely under the auspices of the federal government failed to gain Judge Bolton’s full support. Bolton did rule that parts of SB 1070 are blocked pending resolution of seven lawsuits, but declined to grant the government’s request for an injunction blocking all provisions of the law from going into effect at midnight Thursday.

The ruling blocked the requirement that Arizona law enforcement officers determine the immigration status of all persons encountered during traffic stops and investigations. Bolton agreed with Arizona that steps must be taken to address the illegal immigration problem. Her ruling does allow police to check the immigration status of all persons arrested for a crime.

The provisions of SB 1070 that make it a criminal offense, rather than a federal civil offense, was blocked, along with the provision prohibiting illegal immigrants from seeking work in the state.

Bolton, a Clinton appointee, has jurisdiction over all seven lawsuits filed against Arizona by the Justice Department, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Hispanic and religious organizations.

Bolton’s critics are questioning the judge’s finding that requiring the federal government to enforce federal immigration laws imposes a burden on the government’s resources and budget.

Atty. Gen. Eric Holder’s office released a statement claiming a partial victory in the lawsuit. Holder’s spokesman said the government “understands Arizona’s frustration,” but views a patchwork of state immigration laws as an unworkable solution. The Justice Department vowed to work with the states while the Obama Administration continues to pursue comprehensive immigration reform.

Protestors, including groups bused over from California, gathered outside the Sandra Day O’Conner Federal Courthouse in downtown Phoenix. Anti-SB 1070 protestors promised acts of civil disobedience and confrontations with federal and state authorities, including Homeland Security officers who surrounded the courthouse, as rumors of an impending ruling from Judge Bolton spread.

Code Pink and members of Hispanic organizations plan mass demonstrations by people intentionally not carrying any identification and challenging police to arrest them.

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio promised his deputies will arrest any and all demonstrators who break the law. Arpaio conducted yet another raid Tuesday on a business allegedly employing illegal workers and vowed another crime sweep Thursday looking for illegal immigrants. Last week, Arpaio opened another 100-bed unit in his infamous tent-city jail labeled the 1070 Section.

The pro-illegal immigrant groups and Hispanic organizations opposed to the law are quick to label SB 1070 supporters as racists. During last week’s federal hearings before Judge Bolton, a Hispanic woman claiming to be in the United States illegally harangued Americans outside the courthouse supporting SB 1070, calling them racist Nazis while demanding that all white Americans of European descent leave North America.

Paulina Gonzalez, spokeswoman for the “We Are All Arizona” group, said protestors intend to make a forceful statement in Arizona regardless of Judge Bolton’s ruling because 21 other states have heard the voices of the 60% plus of citizens who want similar illegal immigration legislation passed.

According to Gov. Jan Brewer’s office, Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horn, and the Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association, illegal immigrants in Arizona cost the state $100 million annually for education, arrest, prosecution and incarceration for criminal acts and healthcare alone. The actual number of illegals receiving other state and federal benefits brings the true costs closer to an estimated $2 billion each year.

Self deportation back to their home countries or to other states by illegals afraid of tangling with Arizona’s law increased dramatically as SB 1070’s implementation date approached. A number of Phoenix and Tucson school districts are reporting decreased student enrollments as classes resume after the summer break.

Dozens of shops and businesses catering primarily to illegal immigrants have closed down because of the lack of customers. Landlords are reporting more vacant housing units caused by the departures of hundreds of people in Arizona illegally. The number of home foreclosures in Arizona, which leveled off somewhat in other parts of the country, are second only to Nevada.

The boycotts called for by Arizona’s Democratic Rep. Raul Grijalva have had a less than significant effect on the state’s tourism industry. As a result of the economy, Arizona’s tourism industry has remained flat for the past two years, but Phoenix and Tucson report a 10% increase in room rentals compared with June and July of 2009. The increase is attributed to the buycott movement of SB 1070 supporters coming to the state for vacations and partly by the numbers of SB 1070 protestors seeking air conditioned relief from the scorching desert temperatures.

A joint statement by parliamentary leaders of Mexico, Ecuador, Uruguay, Panama, Bolivia, Guatemala, Cuba and Chile, all countries with stricter immigration enforcement than the United States, accuses Arizona of racism and xenophobia.

Vice President Joe Biden visited the Grand Canyon on Tuesday to promote federal stimulus spending projects in National Parks, but studiously avoided commenting on the immigration crisis and the Obama Administration’s slap-in-the-face move to send only 564 National Guard troops to Arizona and more than half of the $60 million pledged toward border security to Mexico’s corrupt government.