A federal judge blocked police in Arizona from enforcing a section of the state’s 2010 immigration enforcement law that prohibited people from blocking traffic when they seek or offer day labor services on streets.
U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton ruled Wednesday that groups seeking to overturn the law will likely prevail in their claim that the day labor rules violate the First Amendment.
The ban was among a handful of provisions in the law that were allowed to take effect after a July 2010 decision by Bolton halted enforcement of other, more controversial elements of the law. The previously blocked portions include a requirement that police, while enforcing other laws, question people’s immigration status if officers suspect they are in the country illegally.
The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear Gov. Jan Brewer’s appeal of Bolton’s decision to put the most contentious elements of the law on hold. Another appeals court has already upheld Bolton’s ruling.
Three of the seven challenges to the Arizona law remain alive. No trial date has yet been scheduled in the three cases.
The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and other opponents had asked the judge for a preliminary injunction to block enforcement of the day labor rules, arguing they unconstitutionally restrict the free speech rights of people who want to express their need for work.
Brewer’s lawyers had opposed attempts to halt enforcement of the day labor restrictions. They argued the restrictions are meant to confront safety concerns, distractions to drivers, harassment to passers-by, trespassing and damage to property.
Brewer’s lawyers have said day laborers congregate on roadsides in large groups, flagging down vehicles and often swarming those that stop. They also said day laborers in Phoenix and its suburbs of Chandler, Mesa and Fountain Hills leave behind water bottles, food wrappers and other trash.
Bolton previously denied an earlier request to block the day labor rules, but opponents were allowed to bring it up again after the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on a similar issue in September.
The appeals court had suspended a law from Redondo Beach, Calif., that banned day laborers from standing on public sidewalks while soliciting work from motorists. The court ruled the law violated workers’ free speech rights and was so broad that it was illegal for children to shout “car wash” to passing drivers.