Bloomberg News

Civil Rights Groups Seek to Stop Arizona Immigration Law

July 18, 2012

Civil rights groups asked a federal judge to block a provision of Arizona’s immigration law left standing by the U.S. Supreme Court, saying the provision they termed “show me your papers” provision is unconstitutional.

Lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Immigration Law Center and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund said in a filing yesterday in federal court in Phoenix that the provision, which requires officers conducting a stop or detention to verify a person’s immigration status, violates the U.S. Constitution.

The groups asked for a court order blocking the provision from going into effect, which they said in a statement could happen in a “few days” without court action.

“In a state that’s more than 30 percent Latino, requiring police to act as immigration agents is an invitation to racial profiling on a massive scale,” Omar Jadwat, a lawyer with the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project, said in the statement.

The Obama administration sued to challenge S.B. 1070, as the Arizona law is known, saying it encroached on the exclusive federal right to set immigration policy.

The Supreme Court in June struck down much of Arizona’s 2010 immigration law on grounds that states must defer to the federal government on immigration policy. The Supreme Court said the requirement on police checks of immigration status could take effect, while leaving open the possibility of new legal challenges to the provision.

Five States

Arizona’s law was the first of its kind when enacted in 2010. Since then, Alabama, South Carolina, Georgia, Utah and Indiana have all passed their own measures aimed at illegal immigration. All are facing court fights.

Arizona has argued it has the right to act because the U.S. government hasn’t done enough and it doesn’t have to defer to federal priorities. The state’s 370-mile border with Mexico is the crossing point for half the nation’s illegal immigrants, Arizona said.

Amy Rezzonico, a spokeswoman for Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne, didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail after regular business hours seeking comment on the case.

In yesterday’s filings, the groups said they are submitting additional evidence that the provision will be implemented in a way that the Supreme Court said in its June 25 decision would raise constitutional concerns, namely that state officers will extend detentions to verify immigration status.

Detentions Extended

“Nothing in the state’s newly reissued training materials on S.B. 1070 indicates that section 2(B) cannot be used to extend detentions solely for immigration purposes, nor do these materials set any limit on the length of time an individual can be held pending the results of immigration verification requests,” the civil rights groups said in the filing, referring to the so-called show-me-your-papers provision.

“Moreover, in the short amount of time since the Supreme Court ruled, multiple Arizona law enforcement officials have publicly stated that implementation of section 2(B) will in fact cause officers to detain individuals for immigration status verification when they would not otherwise have been detained,” the groups said.

The case is Valle del Sol v. Whiting, 10-01061, U.S. District Court, District of Arizona (Phoenix.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Edvard Pettersson in Los Angeles at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at

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