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Day Laborers Allowed to Look for Work in Arizona, Appeals Court Rules

TUCSON, AZ - APRIL 05:  Hispanic day laborers open the doors to a truck as a man hires them to work manual labor April 5, 2008 in Tucson, Arizona.  Manual laborers, mostly undocumented workers from Mexico, frequent this corner in Tucson every morning before dawn, in an informal arrangement with local employers, who can pick up as many as they need for day-long jobs.  Much of the work up to now has been housing-related; but with the housing downturn, that work has largely dried up, and these laborers now often don't work more than once a week.  (Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images)

TUCSON, AZ - APRIL 05: Hispanic day laborers open the doors to a truck as a man hires them to work manual labor April 5, 2008 in Tucson, Arizona. Manual laborers, mostly undocumented workers from Mexico, frequent this corner in Tucson every morning before dawn, in an informal arrangement with local employers, who can pick up as many as they need for day-long jobs. Much of the work up to now has been housing-related; but with the housing downturn, that work has largely dried up, and these laborers now often don't work more than once a week. (Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images)  (2008 Getty Images)

Arizona police cannot arrest day laborers who they believe are blocking traffic while offering services on streets, an appeals court ruled Monday.

The decision prevents police from enforcing a little-known section of the state's 2010 immigration enforcement law.

The ruling by 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals marked a loss for Gov. Jan Brewer, who had asked the court to rescind a February 2012 decision by a judge who rejected Brewer's arguments that the day labor rules were needed for traffic safety.

Groups that challenged the law argued that the day labor rules unconstitutionally restrict the free speech rights of people who want to express their need for work.

The ruling on Monday focused on only the law's day labor rules, which were among a handful of sections of the law that were allowed to take effect after a July 2010 decision.

The day labor restrictions weren't among the sections of law that the Supreme Court considered last year when it upheld the law's most contentious section that required police, while enforcing other laws, to question people's immigration status if they're believed to be in the country illegally. 

The nation's highest court struck down other sections of the law, such as a requirement that immigrants obtain or carry immigration registration papers.

It's unclear whether the day labor rules were enforced by police while they were in effect from July 2010 until the decision in February 2012.

Day labor organizers say they know of no arrests under the rules, though they added that day laborers are still arrested on trespassing and other charges that aren't in the immigration law. In the past, some of the biggest police agencies in Arizona have reported little – if any – use of provisions in the law.

Brewer's lawyers had argued that the restrictions are meant to confront safety concerns, distractions to drivers, harassment to passers-by, trespassing and damage to property. They said day laborers congregate on roadsides in large groups, flagging down vehicles and often swarming those that stop. They also said day laborers in Phoenix and its suburbs of Chandler, Mesa and Fountain Hills leave behind water bottles, food wrappers and other trash.

Based on reporting by The Associated Press.

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