A federal judge has blocked key elements of the controversial Arizona immigration law just hours before it was scheduled to take effect.
The Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act, usually referred to by its Arizona Senate designation, SB 1070, was signed into law by Governor Jan Brewer in April, and was to go into effect as of midnight, Arizona time. The law has been the subject of contentious debate since its passage; many immigrant advocates and civil rights groups insist SB 1070 is discriminatory and encourages racial profiling.
One possible reason for their insistence: SB 1070 is discriminatory, and encourages racial profiling. Once bound by its provisions, law enforcement officers are not only empowered to check the immigration status of individuals they arrest, but required to do so. Officers suspected of not performing this duty to the utmost can be sued and forced to pay a fine of as much as $5,000.
The ruling by U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton suspends the requirement to verify the immigration status of those arrested in Arizona, and relieves citizens and other legal residents of the responsibility to carry proof of their lawful immigration status on their person at all times.
It’s a victory for the embattled old American virtues of liberty and the presumption of innocence, but perhaps only a temporary one. Bolton’s injunction is meant to prevent the Arizona law from being enforced until the lawsuit brought against the state by the federal government is settled. That case might make it all the way to the Supreme Court before reaching a definite conclusion.
Still, a win is a win, even if it’s only for the moment. Chalk one up for the good guys, for now.