Published July 22, 2010
PHOENIX -- A federal judge will hear arguments Thursday from lawyers for the governor, the U.S. government and civil rights groups over whether Arizona's new law requiring police to run checks on immigration status should take effect in a week.
U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton will consider a request by the U.S. Justice Department to block enforcement of the law. She also will hear arguments in a challenge by civil rights groups over whether the law should be put on hold and whether that lawsuit should be thrown out of court.
The judge has said she wasn't making any promises on whether she would make those rulings before the law takes effect on July 29.
The law requires officers, while enforcing other laws, to check a person's immigration status if there's a reasonable suspicion that the person is here illegally. It also bans people from blocking traffic when they seek or offer day-labor services on streets and prohibits illegal immigrants from soliciting work in public places.
Since Gov. Jan Brewer signed the measure into law on April 23, it has inspired rallies in Arizona and elsewhere by advocates on both sides of the immigration debate. Some opponents have advocated a tourism boycott of Arizona.
It also led an unknown number of illegal immigrants to leave Arizona for other U.S. states or their home countries and prompted seven challenges by the Justice Department, civil rights groups, two Arizona police officers, a Latino clergy group and a researcher from Washington.
Attorneys for Brewer argue that the federal government based its challenge on misconceptions of what the law would do and that Washington's inadequate immigration enforcement has left the state with heavy costs for educating, incarcerating and providing health care for illegal immigrants.
In the challenge by civil rights groups, Brewer and other officials said the lawsuit should be thrown out because the groups don't allege a real threat of harm from enforcing the new law and instead base their claims on speculation.
The civil rights groups said their clients will suffer imminent harm, such as a social service organization that will have to divert resources from its programs to instead assist those affected by the new law.