Border Sheriffs Seek Donations to Unblock Arizona Immigration Law

A group of sheriffs representing an Arizona border county is seeking $60,000 in donations to file a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of the state's controversial immigration law.

The Border Sheriffs group, which represents Cochise County Sheriff Larry Dever, wrote in fundraising letters that it has raised $29,000 but needs $31,000 more for the brief or key parts of SB1070 will remain blocked by the courts.

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer's office is trying to persuade the U.S. Supreme Court to take the case and overturn an April decision by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Brewer had asked the appeals court to lift an injunction imposed by a federal judge the day before the law was to take effect on July 29, 2010. The U.S Justice Department sued to block the law, saying it violates the Constitution because enforcing Immigration law is a federal issue.

The Arizona Daily Star reported that Dever wants to submit a "friend of the court" brief saying why the high court should take the case from his on-the-border view.

The brief is a filing by an outside party about a case under consideration, and it may include information not in previous appeals. Such briefs can have an impact, said Nick Dranias, an attorney who heads the Goldwater Institute's Center for Constitutional Government and has filed many such briefs.

"I think of the amicus brief as the op-ed of legal briefings," Dranias said.

Dever said he wants to tell the court how the Arizona law, known as SB1070, can help his border county.

"We're trying to drive home the importance and significance of this law relieving pressure on the border here by eliminating sanctuary policies in this state," Dever said.

Border Sheriffs was founded by the Iowa-based Legacy Foundation last year to raise money for the defense of Arizona's tough Immigration law on behalf of Dever and Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu.

Initially, the group raised money on the argument that Arizona's sheriffs were being sued personally by the American Civil Liberties Union over SB1070 and faced personal financial jeopardy. But Arizona's sheriffs and county attorneys were named in their official roles.

Dever has approval from Cochise County for a Scottsdale attorney to represent him, as long as the fees are paid with donations. Pinal County Attorney James Walsh declined Babeu's request to use an outside attorney.

This month, Brewer's office appealed the 9th-circuit decision sustaining U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton's injunction against key parts of SB1070.

The law was designed to give state and local police a greater role in arresting undocumented immigrants. It requires officers to question those whom they already have stopped if there is reason to believe the person is in this country illegally. It also makes it a state crime for illegal immigrants to seek work in Arizona.

Based on reporting by the Associated Press.

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