Judge Blocks Most Controversial Portions of Arizona Immigration Law

Posted July 28, 2010 at 12:53pm

Updated: 4:19 p.m.

A federal judge has blocked Arizona from enforcing the most controversial portions of its new immigration law but did allow other provisions of the law to take effect Thursday.

U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton on Wednesday struck down the portion of the Arizona law that would require state police officers to determine the immigration status of anybody they suspect may be in the country illegally. Bolton also halted a provision in the law that would make it a crime for someone not authorized to be in the country to seek work. The Justice Department and several civil rights organizations have challenged the constitutionality of the law.

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), the lone Senator in the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, hailed the ruling as a victory for critics of the law who say its core provisions amount to racial profiling.

“I’m glad to see the judge did enjoin what is clearly a federal responsibility,” Menendez said on MSNBC. “It’s important to do so, not only because of what the law is in Arizona, but the fact that so many other states that seem to be lining up to do exact or similar laws to Arizona.”

The New Jersey Democrat issued an appeal to Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) to meet with Senators to help advance comprehensive immigration reform. He called it “interesting” that Brewer has said the Arizona law is needed because comprehensive reform has not moved forward when, at the same time, her state is home to “members in the Senate opposing movement toward comprehensive immigration reform. You can’t have it both ways.”

Republicans roundly criticized the judge’s decision and argued it highlights the need for passage of stricter border security laws.

“We are deeply disappointed in the court’s ruling today and disagree with the court’s opinion that the Arizona’s law will unduly ‘burden’ the enforcement of federal immigration law,” Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said in a joint statement.

“After this decision, it’s even more important to implement our Ten Point Border Security plan to protect Arizonans and our country,” they added.

In the meantime, opponents of the Arizona law spent Wednesday zeroing in on the havoc they say the state law could wreak on the family members, particularly children, of the nation’s estimated 10.8 million undocumented residents.

Roughly 500 children of undocumented immigrants gathered in Washington to protest federal inaction on comprehensive reform. Members of the group met with Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) before marching to a rally in Lafayette Park.

A House Democratic aide involved in immigration reform discussions echoed the frustrations of the Hispanic community over Congress’ and Obama’s failure to deliver on comprehensive reform — something he vowed to deliver on in his first year in office.

“Neither party seems to be getting in line to back it forcefully,” the aide said.

Kathleen Hunter contributed to this report.