A judge has ruled that police in Arizona can immediately start enforcing the most contentious section of the state’s immigration law, marking the first time officers can carry out a requirement that officers, while enforcing other laws, question the immigration status of those suspected of being in the country illegally.
The decision on Tuesday by U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton is the latest milestone in a two-year legal battle over the requirement. It culminated in a U.S. Supreme Court decision in June that upheld the provision on the grounds that it doesn’t conflict with federal law.
Opponents who call the requirement the “show me your papers” provision responded to the Supreme Court decision by asking Bolton to block the requirement on different grounds, arguing that it would lead to systematic racial profiling and unreasonably long detentions of Latinos if it’s enforced.
Other less controversial parts of the law have been in effect since July 2010, such as minor changes to the state’s 2005 immigrant smuggling law and a ban on state and local government agencies from restricting the enforcement of federal immigration law. But those provisions have gotten little, if any, use since they were put into effect.
Arizona’s law was passed in 2010 amid voter frustration with the state’s role as the busiest illegal entry point into the country. Five states — Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, South Carolina and Utah — have adopted variations on Arizona’s law.
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