PHOENIX (AP) – Challengers of Arizona's landmark immigration law failed to show that police would enforce the statute differently for Latinos than it would for people of other ethnicities, a judge said in a ruling that dismissed the last of seven challenges to the law.
The ruling could signal the end of the case and gave a victory to backers of the law, which was approved in 2010.
In her order Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Susan Bolton dismissed the challenge and upheld provisions that were previously ruled on by appeals courts.
She upheld the law's controversial requirement that police, while enforcing other laws, can question the immigration status of those suspected of being in the country illegally. The U.S. Supreme Court also upheld the requirement, but the law's detractors continued to push their challenge at a lower-court level.
Opponents have "not produced any evidence that state law enforcement officials will enforce SB1070 differently for Latinos than a similarly situated person of another race or ethnicity," Bolton wrote.
It's unclear whether the challengers will appeal the ruling. Karen Tumlin, an attorney representing a coalition of civil rights groups, said in a statement they would "evaluate all legal options moving forward."
Former state Sen. Russell Pearce, who sponsored the initial legislation, applauded Bolton's judgment.
"She made it very clear the law was written very carefully not to be a race issue. It's not a racial law," Pearce said.
The judge, however, did permanently bar a section of the law that prohibited people from blocking traffic when seeking or offering day labor services on streets. An appeals court previously also held Arizona could not enforce such provisions. Opponents had argued that day labor rules unconstitutionally restrict the free speech rights of people who want to express their need for work.
Arizona's frustrations over federal enforcement of the state's border with Mexico spawned a movement nearly a decade ago to have local police confront illegal immigration. Several such laws — including the state's ban on immigrant smuggling and automatic denial of bail to people in the country illegally who are charged with certain crimes — have since been thrown out by the courts.