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Arizona legislature shelves idea of changing immigration law

Arizona legislators are setting aside Gov. Jan Brewer’s suggestion that lawmakers consider changing parts of the state’s controversial immigration law.

Brewer on July 30 floated the idea of making “tweaks” to the law shortly after a federal judge blocked implementation of numerous provisions. Legislative aides said Tuesday the idea has been shelved, at least temporarily, mainly because of the state’s pending appeal to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

“Everyone agreed … that it would have been acting in haste to act at this point,” said Victor Riches, chief of staff for the House’s Republican majority.

There’s still a possibility that lawmakers could take up the issue in the future but nothing is in the works now, Riches added.

Brewer spokesman Paul Senseman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Brewer didn’t suggest specific changes to the law but expressed a willingness to consider changes in response to the preliminary injunction issued July 28 by U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton.

Legislative leaders voiced skepticism about Brewer’s idea from the get-go but had aides review it before concluding that no immediate action should be taken.

“It’s in the middle of the appeal process. We need to see how at least what the 9th Circuit says,” said Greg Jernigan, general counsel to Senate Republicans.

Legislative aides said Brewer raised the possibility of considering changes to the immigration law during a brief special session held last week on an unrelated topic, but she ultimately didn’t include it in her special session call.

Jernigan noted that the appellate court has agreed to put the case on a fast track, scheduling a hearing on the case in early November.

Although lawmakers could narrow the reach of a blocked provision barring release of arrested people pending checks of their immigration status, it wasn’t realistic to consider changing other provisions blocked by Bolton on grounds that they’re pre-empted by federal authority over immigration matters, Jernigan said.

The pre-emption issue will have to be settled by the courts, Jernigan added.

Besides the provision on immigration checks for arrested people, blocked provisions included a requirement that police check a person’s status while enforcing other laws if there’s a reasonable suspicion the person is in the United States illegally. Bolton also blocked provisions that required immigrants to carry their papers and banned immigrants from soliciting employment in public places.

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