SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - Arizona on Monday tried to persuade a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit to lift a federal judge's order blocking implementation of sections of the state's immigration law, SB 1070. "Arizona is trying to deal with the problems that arise from a federal immigration system that even President Obama acknowledges is broken," Arizona's attorney John Bouma argued. But U.S. Deputy Solicitor General Edwin Kneedler said that basic respect for civil liberties requires that people not be subjected to "interrogations and police surveillance, and this statute because of its mandatory requirement based on minimal reasonable suspicion, we think raises that concern very profoundly."
In July, U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton preliminarily enjoined blocking sections of the law that required police officers to check people's immigration status, required immigrants to ID papers with them, and made it illegal for undocumented immigrants to seek employment in public. Gov. Jan Brewer, present at Monday's hearing amidst crowds of protesters, signed SB 1070 into law on April 23.
At the Monday hearing, Arizona's attorney Bouma argued, "Arizona is a border state and it's on the very front lines. ... The federal government has been unable or unwilling to solve the problem ... and there's no reason why Arizona should stand by and suffer the consequences of a broken system when Arizona has 15,000 well trained and capable law enforcement officers on the ground that can help fix the system."
Kneedler countered that immigration is a federal matter under the Constitution, and that the section of the law requiring police to check immigration status after an arrest is unconstitutional.
"The United States as a whole is responsible to other nations for the ways in which their citizens are treated within the United States," Kneedler said. "Another important factor underlying our immigration law is to respect civil liberties and not subject people to interrogations and police surveillance, and this statute because of its mandatory requirement based on minimal reasonable suspicion, we think raises that concern very profoundly."
The three judges seemed inclined to support Judge Bolton's ruling on the provision requiring people to carry immigration papers.
"What Arizona is doing is saying ... [is] if you don't carry those we're going to put you in jail for up to a year or fine you," Judge Carlos Bea told Bouma. "Is it your argument that a state can take a look at whether the federal government is enforcing its laws and if it is not enforcing its laws, it can enforce the laws for the federal government? If I don't pay my fed income tax, can the California government come along and sue me for not paying my income tax?"
Judge John Noonan, a Reagan appointee, and Judge Richard Perez, appointed by President Bill Clinton, also sit on the panel, which did not indicate when it will rule on the injunction.
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