While the mainstream media was concentrating on the Democratic National Convention this past week, they all but ignored a landmark ruling that came out of the federal courts Wednesday that gave the go-ahead to Arizona authorities to enforce the most controversial part of the state’s immigration law. The provision, dubbed the “show me your papers” directive, will now be implemented across the state of Arizona.

The ruling by U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton allows Arizona law enforcement officers to question the immigration status of those they suspect are in the country illegally when investigating another crime.

Protesting Arizona SB1070

For two years the provision has been at the center of a legal battle that resulted in a U.S. Supreme Court decision in June upholding the requirement, ruling against the Obama Administration that initially challenged the law.

The Supreme Court decision created ambiguity allowing the Obama White House to declare partial victory as the court said that while Arizona officials could inquire and determine the immigration status of an individual that they could not detain anyone on an immigration violation unless federal immigration officials approved; the decision set the stage for further confrontations between the federal government and the state of Arizona.

After the Supreme Court decision opponents of the new law petitioned Judge Bolton to block the immigration papers provision by arguing that it would lead to systematic racial profiling and unreasonably long detentions of Latinos if enforced.

Lawyers for the state of Arizona and Gov. Jan Brewer argued that the judge should allow enforcement to proceed as the opponents should not prevail based purely on speculation of racial profiling; additionally the governor’s office said police had received training to help avoid discriminatory practices and that officers would need to have a reasonable suspicion that a person was in the country illegally to trigger the proof of citizenship requirements of the law.

In Bolton’s ruling she said the court will not ignore the clear direction from the Supreme Court that the provision “cannot be challenged further on its face before the law takes effect.” She reiterated the high court’s interpretation that the Arizona law might be able to be challenged as unconstitutional on other grounds.

The Obama administration’s case was based on the argument that federal immigration law trumped Arizona law. The challenge didn’t confront racial profiling.

The Arizona’s law, known as SB1070, passed in 2010 as voter frustration reached a peak in the state known as the busiest illegal entry point into the country. Five other states, including Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, South Carolina and Utah have adopted similar legislation.

Arizona Gov. Brewer’s office said the law will go into effect shortly.


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