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Ariz. Still Barred From Using Immigration Law

(CN) - An injunction will continue to block Arizona's tough and controversial immigration law, the 9th Circuit ruled Monday, noting that the policy has created a host of foreign-policy problems and effectively turns the state's police officers into Department of Homeland Security agents.

The Arizona Legislature passed S.B. 1070, or the Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act, last April. It requires police officers to check the immigration status of anyone they stop if they suspect them of being an illegal immigrant. The law also "essentially makes it a state crime for unauthorized immigrants to violate federal registration laws," according to the ruling, and allows police to make warrantless arrests based on probable cause of civil removability, among other things.

The federal government sued Arizona in District Court to stop the law from going into effect, arguing that many of its provisions violated the Supremacy and Commerce Clauses of the U.S. Constitution, and were preempted by the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

A federal judge granted injunctive relief to bar enforcement of the law pending a final decision.

In an 87-page ruling published Monday, a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit upheld the order because the United States had shown it was likely to succeed with its constitutional arguments.

"Congress explicitly required that in enforcing federal immigration law, state and local officers 'shall' be directed by the Attorney General," Judge Richard Paez wrote for the San Francisco-based panel. "This mandate forecloses any argument that state or local officers can enforce federal immigration law as directed by a mandatory state law."

Paez added that "by imposing mandatory obligations on state and local officers, Arizona interferes with the federal government's authority to implement its priorities and strategies in law enforcement, turning Arizona officers into state-directed DHS agents. As a result, [the law's] Section 2(B) interferes with Congress' delegation of discretion to the Executive branch in enforcing the INA."

The panel also found that S.B. 1070 had created "actual foreign policy problems of a magnitude far greater than incidental." (Emphasis in original.)

"Thus far, the following foreign leaders and bodies have publicly criticized Arizona's law: The Presidents of Mexico, Bolivia, Ecuador, El Salvador, and Guatemala; the governments of Brazil, Colombia, Honduras, and Nicaragua; the national assemblies in Ecuador and Nicaragua and the Central American Parliament; six human rights experts at the United Nations; the Secretary General and many permanent representatives of the Organization of American States; the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights; and the Union of South American Nations," Paez wrote. "Here, we are presented with statements attributable to foreign governments necessarily involved and opinions of senior United States' officials: together, these factors persuade us that [the law's] Section 2(B) thwarts the Executive's ability to singularly manage the spillover effects of the nation's immigration laws on foreign affairs."

Writing in partial dissent, Judge Carlos Bea argued that the majority "misinterprets the Supreme Court's cases on foreign relations preemption to allow any complaining foreign country to preempt a state law, and holds that the prospect of all 50 states assisting the federal government in identifying illegal aliens is - to Congress - an unwanted burden."

"As I see it, Congress has clearly expressed its intention that state officials should assist federal officials in checking the immigration status of aliens, and in the 'identification, apprehension, detention, or removal of aliens not lawfully present in the United States,'" Bea added (emphasis in original).

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