Lawyers for Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer are asking an appeals court to rescind a ruling that prevents police from enforcing part of Arizona’s immigration law that prohibits people from blocking traffic when they seek or offer day labor services.
The governor’s appeal to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is separate from an appeal she lodged before the U.S. Supreme Court, which is expected to rule in the coming days on whether to let police enforce the law’s more controversial elements. The little-known day labor provision isn’t part of the case before the nation’s highest court.
Brewer appealed the day labor ruling after U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton in February rejected the governor’s arguments that the rules were needed for traffic safety. Bolton, who pointed out that the law’s purpose was to make attrition through enforcement the state’s immigration policy, wrote that the law appears to target speech rather than a broader traffic problem.
It’s unclear whether the day labor rules were enforced by police while they were in effect from July 2010 until the decision in February.
Day labor organizers say they know of no arrests under the rules, though they added that day laborers are still arrested on trespassing and other charges that aren’t in the immigration law. In the past, some of the biggest police agencies in Arizona have reported little — if any — use of provisions in the law.
Brewer’s lawyers argued that Bolton’s day labor decision isn’t backed up by evidence and that the restrictions are meant to confront traffic safety concerns, as well as trespassing and damage to property.
They told the 9th Circuit that day laborers congregate on roadsides in large groups, flagging down vehicles and often swarming those that stop. They also said businesses in Phoenix, Cave Creek, Chandler, Mesa and Fountain Hills have complained to officials about the harm that day laborers cause to their revenues.
Groups that challenged the law argued the day labor rules unconstitutionally restrict the free speech rights of people who want to express their need for work. The groups say the state can’t justify the statewide ban on work solicitation speech imposed by the rules.
The Supreme Court is considering a July 2010 decision by Bolton that put the immigration law’s most controversial parts — such as a requirement that police check the immigration status of people they stop for other reasons — on hold.
Legal experts expect that the Supreme Court likely will uphold the requirement for immigration-status checks.