Published July 29, 2010
Arizona's court-altered illegal immigration law went into effect just after midnight Wednesday, hours after a federal judge blocked its most controversial provisions -- including on-the-spot police checks of suspected illegal immigrants.
Soon after Judge Susan Bolton's decision was announced, a spokesman for Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer said the state will appeal the ruling to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco on Thursday, asking the appellate court for a swift decision to lift the injunction and allow the blocked provisions to take effect.
Brewer vowed to take the case "all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary," in a legal process that could take years to unravel, leaving other states considering similar laws in a legislative limbo.
While opponents of Arizona's strict immigration law are claiming victory after Wednesday's ruling, there's still plenty left in the state legislation that supporters are cheering.
As the case is litigated, Arizona will be able to block state officials from so-called "sanctuary city" policies limiting enforcement of federal law; require that state officials work with federal officials on illegal immigration; allow civil suits over sanctuary cities; and to make it a crime to pick up day laborers.
"We have a big problem with day laborers standing on the street disrupting traffic, disrupting communities, scaring people, and that part of the law withstood constitutionality," Arizona state Rep. John Kavanagh told Fox News. "We'll be able to clean up that mess."
Kavanagh also praised the other sections of the law that were not blocked.
"I think it is a powerful deterrent effect and this is not going to be settled for years," he said. "So while we might not have as strong a deterrent as we had yesterday, it is still something for illegals to think about when they are looking for places to go."
State Senator Russell Pearce, the law's chief author, said he likes that the state will be able enforce a provision that bars local governments from limiting enforcement of federal immigration laws.
"Striking down these sanctuary city policies has always been the No. 1 priority," he said.
Pearce said that part of Bolton's ruling removes what he calls "political handcuffs" from law enforcement officers whose superiors put restraints on their enforcement of immigration laws. He predicted the battle over the law would eventually end up in the Supreme Court, with Arizona prevailing.
"We will appeal this immediately and we will win on appeal," he told the Arizona Republic. "This will be to the Supreme Court eventually, and I expect a 5-4 decision in our favor, perhaps even 6-3."
The remaining provisions, many of them procedural and revisions to an Arizona immigration statute, took effect at 12:01 a.m. Thursday.
Still, many supporters were not pleased that the judge blocked the most controversial sections of the law. The partial injunction prevents Arizona from requiring police officers to determine the immigration status of anyone they stop or arrest. It also strikes down the provision making it a crime not to carry immigration registration papers and the provision that makes it a crime for an illegal immigrant to seek or perform work.
"We are deeply disappointed that she views that the enforcement of law would impose a burden on the federal government," Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., told Fox News. "The federal government is supposed to carry out its responsibilities of securing our borders. It's really disappointing."
"I think key provisions have been removed. Let's be honest about it," he said. "But also, the upshot of this is we gotta get the border secured. … Rather than wasting their time on all of this court stuff, all they had to do was give us the assets necessary to get our borders secured."
U.S. Rep. Harry Mitchell, R-Ariz., said the ruling should not give Washington any kind of excuse not to address immigration.
"There are no victors today, except those who want to use this protracted litigation as a means to grandstand and score political points, instead of actually rolling up their sleeves and getting to work to help fix the problem," he said in a written statement."
"I believe that if the new state law spurs Washington to act, then it is a good thing," he said. "But make no mistake: neither the state law, nor the lawsuit to overturn it – nor today's temporary injunction – will fix the problem, secure our border, or fix a broken immigration system."
To Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio told KTAR.com that the ruling is not a "defeat by any means."
"We will still do what we have been doing for the past three years," he said in response to the ruling. "On employer sanction state law, on human smuggling state law," he said.
But the decision was seen as a defeat for Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, who is running for another term in November and has seen her political fortunes rise because of the law's popularity among conservatives.
But her opponent, state Attorney General Terry Goddard, pounced.
"Jan Brewer played politics with immigration, and she lost," the Democrat said. "It is time to look beyond election-year grandstanding and begin to repair the damage to Arizona's image and economy."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.