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Judge Blocks Controversial Provisions in Arizona Immigration Law

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Mike O'Sullivan

A U.S. judge Wednesday blocked controversial parts of an Arizona law aimed at curbing illegal immigration, one day before the law goes into effect.   The law's opponents are applauding the ruling, while Arizona governor Jan Brewer, who supports the law, calls it a bump in the road.

Judge Susan Bolton issued the temporary injunction against provisions of the law that would have required police to check the immigration status of people they suspect are in the country illegally when they arrest or stop those people while enforcing other laws.  The judge also delayed a provision that would have required immigrants to carry documents at all times, and another that would have prevented illegal immigrants from soliciting work in public places.  She blocked a fourth provision that would have allowed warrant-less arrests of suspected illegal immigrants.  The judge said the temporary injunction will allow the disputed issues to be decided in court

Arizona governor Jan Brewer said she will consult lawyers on a possible appeal.

"We are going to continue to request that we get heard on this and that the citizens of Arizona are protected," said Jan Brewer. "I think that it's important to remind everybody that today they absolutely, the federal government got relief from the courts to not do their job."

Brewer signed the law in April, saying the bill was a response to a lack of enforcement of U.S. immigration law by federal officials.  She says that U.S. government inaction has led to increased crime and added costs for the state for the incarceration of criminals, health care and education.

President Barack Obama had called the law "misguided."  Other opponents had said it would lead to racial profiling by police.

Judge Bolton left in place a provision of the law that prevents the unauthorized hiring of illegal immigrants, and another that allows Arizona to block cities from becoming so-called sanctuaries in defiance of federal immigration law.  

Her ruling came in response to a court challenge by the U.S. Department of Justice, which says that immigration is a federal  responsibility and that the Arizona law has become an issue in foreign relations with countries such as Mexico.

Private groups have also sued to block the law, including the American Civil Liberties Union, saying it unfairly discriminates against Hispanic citizens.  The judge did not address that issue, but said requiring police to check the immigration status of every person they arrest would place an unfair burden on lawful immigrants.

The immigrant rights group Border Action Network applauded the ruling for removing what the group calls the law's most discriminatory provisions.

Most illegal migrants to the United States come from Mexico, and Arizona, as a border state, has been called a gateway.  Many illegal immigrants, including Daniel Rodruiguez, arrive here as children.

"I didn't commit any moral wrong by being 6.5 and coming with my family here," said Daniel Rodruiguez.

Some law enforcement officials say they worry that enforcing immigration law would reduce the time they spend on local law enforcement.  But Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County says federal laws cannot be ignored.

"It is a crime to be here illegally, and everybody should enforce that crime in the interior of the United States, including Arizona," said Joe Arpaio.

The remaining provisions of the Arizona law will take effect Thursday, and lawsuits against the law will  proceed through the courts.  Governor Jan Brewer calls Wednesday's ruling the beginning of a process.  

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