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Judge Bolton assumed that it required Arizona law enforcement officials and agencies to determine the immigration status of every person who is arrested. Proceeding from that false assumption, she concluded that in addition to the high burdens of verification imposed on everyone involved, including immigration officials, “all arrestees will be required to prove their immigration status to the satisfaction of state authorities, thus increasing the intrusion of police presence into the lives of legally-present aliens (and even United States citizens), who will necessarily be swept up by this requirement.”
In fact, the Arizona law provides discretion to law enforcement officers. After stopping or detaining someone for an unrelated violation of law, they would make a judgment as to whether reasonable suspicion existed to investigate their immigration status. Judge Bolton refused to read the entire provision as interdependent, deciding to split hairs and reaching a result that was contrary to the legislative intent.
Judge Bolton could have chosen to take a more balanced approach. Perhaps there were a few instances in the Arizona law that did go beyond the scope of federal law, such as criminalizing the very act of working that Congress had not made criminal. Congress, instead, decided to focus on the employers hiring illegal immigrants. However, Judge Bolton went much further and chose to ratify the status quo. Indeed, in the concluding portion of her opinion, she noted that “even though Arizona’s interests may be consistent with” those of the federal government, “it is not in the public interest for Arizona to enforce” the law. Ultimately, she argued that “preserving the status quo through a preliminary injunction is less harmful than allowing state laws that are likely preempted by federal law to be enforced.” (emphasis added)
Arizonans are unlikely to agree. For citizens of the state and other border states, the status quo means more killings, kidnappings, drug-running, robberies, and burdens on scarce state resources while the federal government continues to look the other way.
Predictably, the Obama administration and advocates for illegal immigrants were very happy with the ruling. Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, on the other hand, said that the ruling is merely “a temporary bump in the road” and vowed to appeal, which the law permits as a matter of right. Expect an expedited appeal to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court and, depending on what happens there, an eventual hearing before the Supreme Court. Although the Obama has landed the first blow, the battle to crack down on illegal immigration is not yet over.
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