AZ SB 1070 Law Ruled Unconstitutional

Arizona Latinos welcomed a federal appeals court ruling that blocks enforcement of the state’s tough immigration law, but they also say the legal fight is anything but over.

“To us a victory is going to be when SB 1070 is repealed totally out of the books of Arizona,” Salvador Reza, a Phoenix immigrant-rights activist, said of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling on Monday.

Arizona officials vowed to challenge the court's decision. “I believe the Ninth Circuit decision will be overturned by the United States Supreme Court, and I pledge to make every possible effort to achieve that result,” Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne said.

U.S. Rep. Raúl Grijalva, a Democrat, said further state appeals would be costly and result in even deeper divisions among Arizonans over the controversial law.“In the long term, the damage is going to be on the texture of our communities in Arizona, whether you are Latino or non-Latino,” the Tucson congressman said. “It’s not healthy.”

The ruling comes almost a year after Arizona passed the law to discourage illegal immigration. Opponents called the statute unconstitutional and said it would lead to racial profiling and discrimination. The law sparked a national debate and copycat measures in other states, although so far most have failed.  It also generated numerous protests, boycotts and a lawsuit from the Obama administration on grounds that immigration enforcement is an exclusive right of the federal government. Monday’s ruling upholds a decision last summer by a federal judge in Phoenix that put on hold key provisions. The state appealed.

Some of the most divisive parts of SB 1070 the state may not legally enforce while the case makes its way through the courts include: Giving state and local police the power to check the immigration status of people they stop; making it a state crime to work in Arizona without legal authorization; and allowing authorities to make warrantless arrests when probable cause exists on deportable offenses.

Other portions of the law went into effect in July, including provisions that makes it a crime to transport or harbor anyone who is in the country illegally and prohibit local authorities from restricting enforcement of federal immigration laws.

Arizona Sen. Steve Gallardo, a Democrat, said he intends to pursue legislation that would eliminate SB 1070, or at least start the discussion.

"Let's talk about repealing it, let's get this out of the way," he insisted. "Let's start to rebuild Arizona's image and let's do what we can to try to bring in more businesses and conventions and jobs to the state."