A judge has concluded the first of two hearings today on whether Arizona’s new immigration law should take effect next week amid a flurry of legal challenges against the crackdown.
U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton did not rule at the end of a morning hearing on one of seven lawsuits filed against Arizona over a law that has reignited the national immigration debate.
The American Civil Liberties Union and other opponents of the law want Bolton to grant an injunction to block implementation of the law before it takes effect next Thursday.
Meanwhile, Gov. Jan Brewer’s lawyers are asking Bolton to dismiss the suit.
Bolton also will hold an afternoon hearing on the U.S. Department of Justice’s request for a preliminary injunction to block implementation of the law.
The law requires officers, while enforcing other laws, to check a person’s immigration status if there’s a reasonable suspicion that the person is here illegally. It also bans people from blocking traffic when they seek or offer day-labor services on streets and prohibits illegal immigrants from soliciting work in public places.
Since Gov. Jan Brewer signed the measure into law on April 23, it has inspired rallies in Arizona and elsewhere by advocates on both sides of the immigration debate. Some opponents have advocated a tourism boycott of Arizona.
It also led an unknown number of illegal immigrants to leave Arizona for other U.S. states or their home countries and prompted seven challenges by the Justice Department, civil rights groups, two Arizona police officers, a Latino clergy group and a researcher from Washington.
Justice Department lawyers contend that local police shouldn’t be allowed to enforce the law because, in part, it’s already disrupting the United States’ relations with Mexico and other countries.
Attorneys for Brewer argue that the federal government based its challenge on misconceptions of what the law would do and that Washington’s inadequate immigration enforcement has left the state with heavy costs for educating, incarcerating and providing health care for illegal immigrants.
In the challenge by civil rights groups, Brewer and other officials said the lawsuit should be thrown out because the groups don’t allege a real threat of harm from enforcing the new law and instead base their claims on speculation.
The civil rights groups said their clients will suffer imminent harm, such as a social service organization that will have to divert resources from its programs to instead assist those affected by the new law.