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Brewer declares victory in spite of mixed ruling

Gov. Jan Brewer lauds the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling on Arizona's controversial immigration law, known asSB1070, at a press conference following the announcement of the decision. (Photo by Evan Wyloge/Arizona Capitol Times)

Gov. Jan Brewer declared victory today following the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on SB1070, despite the high court’s decision to scrap three key provisions of the law.

Brewer, who was propelled to national fame in 2010 after signing SB1070, said Section 2(B), which requires police officers to check the immigration status of people they suspect are in the country illegally, is the heart of the law.

“The heart of Senate Bill 1070 has been proven to be constitutional. Arizona’s and every other states’ inherent authority to protect and defend its people has been upheld,” Brewer said at a press conference in the Executive Tower today. “Today the state of Arizona and Senate Bill 1070 were vindicated, and the heart of the bill was upheld unanimously.”

Brewer said Section 2(B) will go into effect immediately, and stressed that law enforcement officers are prepared to enforce it while protecting civil rights and avoiding racial profiling. The governor was mindful that opponents of the law are planning racial profiling lawsuits, and said she believes Arizona will prevail if SB1070 ends up back in court.

“We know the eyes of the world will be upon us. We know the critics will be watching and waiting, hoping for another opportunity to continue their legal assault on our state. But I have faith in our law enforcement. Our brave men and women in uniform have been trained so that they are able to enforce this law efficiently, effectively and in harmony with the Constitution,” she said. “This certainly is not the end of our journey. We fully expect lawsuits to be filed and that this portion of the law be challenged. We will be getting ready and prepared if that takes place.”

But Brewer did not address how effective the law will be without other key provisions that the Supreme Court rejected. The court ruled against sections of the law making it a state crime for an illegal immigrant to not carry federal documentation, making it a state crime for illegal immigrants to seek work, and allowing police officers to arrest people without warrants on suspicion that they’ve committed crimes making them removable from the country.

“With Section 2(B) being upheld, it says that local law enforcement can assist the federal government in the right to ask, under reasonable suspicion and whenever practicable, to confer the legal ability of someone being in the state of Arizona,” Brewer said when asked how effective the law would be without the three provisions that were overturned. “I believe that we’ve accomplished a lot. It was upheld by the United States Supreme Court and that we will move forward, instructing law enforcement to begin practicing what the United States Supreme Court has upheld.”

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security threw up a couple additional roadblocks to enforcement of Section 2(B) today, announcing that it would not respond to the scene of calls from Arizona law enforcement unless an illegal immigrant met the agency’s enforcement priorities – convicted criminals, people who have re-entered the country after deportation, or people who have recently crossed the border. DHS also scrapped its 287(g) task force program, which allows law enforcement officers in the field to check immigration status, and suspended existing task force agreements with seven Arizona law enforcement agencies.

After the press conference, Brewer spokesman Matthew Benson acknowledged that enforcement would be difficult if federal authorities don’t cooperate.

“We’ve always understood that SB1070 was about local law enforcement the authority to make that determination, to ask the question about an individual and their legal status when they have reasonable suspicion to doubt that legal status. But it has always been the federal government’s job to take it from there, to make the final determination of legal status, and then to begin deportation proceedings if necessary,” Benson said.

As she has done for years, Brewer said Arizona bears the brunt of crime and other costs associated with illegal immigration, and asserted that Arizona was forced into action on SB1070 because of the federal government’s failure to secure the border.

“In response, Arizona had no other choice but to act, and Arizona did so by following, not changing, federal law. Instead of devoting resources to suing states like Arizona, the federal government should have spent time, money and energy on fixing the problem,” she said.

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