The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday ruled to uphold an injunction against controversial Arizona state law SB 1070. In July 2010—only a day before the law was to go into effect—the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) filed suit in federal court to block six of the legislation’s toughest statutes. Monday’s ruling agreed with the DOJ’s position that immigration policy falls under federal jurisdiction and not that of individual states.
SB1070 in its original form required state law enforcement to check an individual’s immigration status while enforcing non-immigration-related laws, provided there is “reasonable suspicion” that the person may be undocumented. While the DOJ contested six of the law’s provisions, the rest went into effect on July 29, 2010, and included penalties for municipalities with more lenient approaches to undocumented immigration, as well as sanctions on employers who hire undocumented workers.
Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, who filed a countersuit against the DOJ in February, 2011, will likely take her case to the U.S. Supreme Court. However, because SB 1070 only affects Arizona, there is no guarantee that the Supreme Court will agree to hear the case, in which case the Circuit Court’s ruling would stand.
When Governor Jan Brewer became vocal about and stood by Arizona Senate Bill 1070 (referred to as the “Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act” after its approval), she catapulted her way into the Republican candidacy for the 2010 gubernatorial election, and most likely, an incumbent landslide victory over Democratic candidate Terry Goddard.
I recently had the opportunity to discuss SB1070 and related issues with Matthew Jette, who ran against Brewer in the Republican primaries. Jette faced harsh opposition from his party members in multiple occasions when he tried to bring some sense and rationality into the undocumented workers’ rights discussion and eventually lost the primaries because he stood by what he knew was right.
Had it been implemented as it was originally drafted, the bill would have made not carrying immigration documents a criminal misdemeanor and would have given state police officials the power to detain people based only on suspicion of their immigrant status and provided them the right to demand proof of holding federal identification papers. My conversation with him presents an interesting look at what SB1070 is really about.
The race for the seat of Arizona state senate Republican Russell Pearce, a key sponsor of the controversial immigration law SB1070, is heating up. His newest opponent, Andrea Garcia, is a Latino woman running on the Libertarian Party ticket who is basing her campaign to unseat Pearce on his support of the controversial law. “My goal is to get Pearce out of the legislature. I believe the approval of state law SB1070 shows the damage his ideas can cause our communities,” says Garcia.
Support for and opposition to SB1070 has become a major issue in this year’s state-wide elections in Arizona and has proven a polarizing topic pitting mostly Republican supporters of the law against all opponents, especially Democrats. However, by many indications, support for the law has helped candidates around the state including Governor Jan Brewer, who won the Republican primary with nearly 82 percent of votes cast. She now faces Democratic challenger Terry Goddard over whom she holds a significant lead.
Garcia faces a formidable incumbent opponent with substantial financial backing and appears to understand that victory is a long shot. She says, however, “I hope that when [voters] realize that SB1070 has really done nothing to prevent undocumented immigration and that, on the contrary, it is hurting our communities, these people will change their minds.”
State-led immigration enforcement has also been an important campaign topic in state elections in Minnesota, California, Florida, and elsewhere.