(Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press)
Judge hears arguments over Arizona immigration law
No ruling issued; injunction sought
(Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press)
PHOENIX — A judge held two hearings in a courtroom packed with spectators and top Arizona officials yesterday on whether the state’s new immigration law should take effect amid a flurry of legal challenges against the crackdown.
Governor Jan Brewer of Arizona attended the second hearing, as did Dennis Burke, US attorney for Arizona.
Judge Susan Bolton did not issue a ruling at the end of the first hearing. The afternoon hearing focused on the US Justice Department requesting a preliminary injunction blocking key sections of the law from taking effect next week.
During the morning hearing, Bolton told lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union that she is required to consider blocking only parts of the law, not the entire statute as they had requested. She said the law has a section allowing parts to still take effect even if other parts are struck down.
ACLU attorney Omar Jadwat said the law’s provisions are supposed to work together to achieve a goal of prodding illegal immigrants to leave the state. He called it unconstitutional and dangerous.
Most of the controversy about the law centers on provisions related to stops and arrests of people, new crimes related to illegal immigrants, and a requirement that immigrants carry and produce their immigration papers.
Other parts of the law getting little attention deal with impoundment of vehicles and sanctions against employment of illegal immigrants.
Attorney John Bouma, who represents Brewer, told Bolton that those challenging the law have not demonstrated that anyone would suffer actual harm if it takes effect, and that facts — not conjecture — must be shown.
“In Arizona, we have a tremendous Hispanic heritage,’’ Bouma said. “To think that everybody that’s Hispanic is going to be stopped and questioned . . . defies reality. All this hypothetical that we’re going to go out and arrest everybody that’s Hispanic, look around. That’s impossible.’’
Jadwat said the new law creates a state immigration system that goes beyond the limits that federal law puts on local officers and will be costly for the federal government to assist in determining the immigration status of a large volume of people.
“The state has no authority to create its own immigration classification,’’ Jadwat said, pointing out that the state is glossing over the complexities of federal immigration law.
Defendants include various county officials from throughout the state, most of whom sent lawyers to the hearing. Cochise County Sheriff Larry Dever was there in person, sitting at the front of the courtroom.
Dever’s county is on the Arizona-Mexico border and he knew a rancher who was killed in March on his sprawling border property by a suspected illegal immigrant, possibly a scout for drug smugglers.
The killing of Robert Krentz in many ways set the stage for the new Arizona law to pass, with politicians calling for action amid border violence.
The law is “intended to have a significant effect on illegal immigration,’’ Dever said. “I wish I could step up to the podium and help out.’’
Outside the courthouse, opponents gathered in prayer before the hearing started and carried paper doves attached to plants representing olive branches, a symbol of peace.
The law requires officers, while enforcing other laws, to check a person’s immigration status if there’s a reasonable suspicion that the person is here illegally. It also bans people from blocking traffic when they seek or offer day-labor services on streets and prohibits illegal immigrants from soliciting work in public places.
Since Brewer signed the measure into law in April, it has inspired rallies in Arizona and elsewhere by advocates on both sides of the immigration debate. Some opponents have advocated a tourism boycott of Arizona.