Arizona’s immigration law can’t take effect immediately

PHOENIX -- Soon after the Supreme Court handed down its ruling on Arizona’s landmark immigration law, Gov. Jan Brewer said she believed the controversial “show me your papers” provision of the law could immediately go into effect. That doesn’t seem to be the case.

Legal experts cautioned Tuesday that the provision cannot be implemented until an injunction imposed by a lower court is lifted.

“It’s going to happen, and it’s going to happen reasonably quickly,” said Dan Pochoda, legal director at the ACLU of Arizona. But, he added, “it could take days or weeks.”

The first step will be for the case to return to the 9th Circuit, said James W. Ziglar, a senior fellow at the Migration Policy Institute.


“The 9th Circuit has to take some action consistent with the court’s opinion,” he said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times.

At a news conference after the decision was announced Monday, Brewer said the state would “move forward instructing law enforcement to begin practicing what the United States Supreme Court has upheld.”

The justices struck down three key provisions of the law cracking down on illegal immigrants — including a requirement that made it a crime for certain immigrants to fail to carry registration papers — saying that the federal government has the sole power to enforce laws against illegal immigration.

But the court let stand a section that requires police officers to check the immigration status of any person they suspect of being in the country illegally – and who has already been stopped for another law enforcement reason, such as a traffic violation. These status checks should not “result in prolonged detention,” Justice Anthony Kennedy said.

Brewer, a Republican, cast the decision on the law, SB 1070, as a vindication for Arizona, saying “the heart of the bill” was upheld.

“Today is a day when the key components of our efforts to protect the citizens of Arizona -- to take up the fight against illegal immigration in a balanced and constitutional way -- has unanimously been vindicated by the highest court in the land,” she said.

Brewer also acknowledged that more court battles may be focused on overturning this provision. “It’s certainly not the end of our journey,” she said.

Arizona legislators passed SB 1070 in 2010, contending that the federal government was not doing enough to prevent illegal immigration. The Obama administration sued to block it.


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