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July 28, 2010

Protesters Rally Against Arizona Immigration Law

Hundreds of people have gathered in the southwestern U.S. state of Arizona to protest a new immigration law that went into effect Thursday, even though it has been stripped of its most controversial part.  Police arrested at least two protesters in Phoenix Thursday morning.

Police arrested more than 30 protesters in Phoenix after they blocked a street outside a sheriff's office to demonstrate the remaining measures in the law.

U.S. Judge Susan Bolton issued a temporary injunction Wednesday against the most controversial part of the law, a measure that would require police to check the immigration status of any person they stop for a violation and suspect is in the country illegally.

Opponents say the measure would lead to racial profiling by police.  And the Obama administration has filed a lawsuit challenging the Arizona law, arguing that immigration enforcement is a federal responsibility.

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer has vowed to appeal the judge's decision, saying she is willing to battle all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

She signed the immigration law in April in hopes of stemming the flow of illegal immigrants from Mexico.

Arizona officials say the influx has led to an increase in crime, including drug trafficking and kidnapping.

The judge also put on hold a provision requiring immigrants to carry documentation at all times, and a measure that made it illegal for undocumented immigrants to seek work in public places.  She said the temporary injunction will allow the disputed issues to be decided in court.

Governor Brewer has accused the federal government of failing to address immigration problems in Arizona.

One provision that still remains in the new law prevents the unauthorized hiring of illegal immigrants.  Another provision allows Arizona to block cities from becoming so-called sanctuaries in defiance of federal immigration law.

President Barack Obama has called the state law "misguided."

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.