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Immigration: Federal appeals court blocks Arizona's law. Is the Supreme Court next?

Arizona A controversial Arizona law that sought to provide local authorities with vast new powers to control illegal immigration won’t kick in anytime soon.

The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Monday that key provisions of  Arizona's law, known as SB 1070,  would likely be found unconstitutional.  The Obama administration sued the state last year arguing that only the federal government can create immigration laws.

The decision is a blow to Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer’s efforts to crack down on illegal workers. Brewer, along with other Republican leaders, defended the measure, saying states are struggling to cope with the costs of illegal immigration. The governor can appeal Monday's ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court or wait until trial in federal court.

The 2010 Arizona law would have made it a crime for an illegal immigrant to seek work, and required anyone in the state to provide proof that he or she was legally in the United States.

Monday's decision marks the second time in recent months that a federal appeals court has weighed in on an Arizona measure that sought to control immigration.

Last year, the 9th Circuit upheld a 2007 law that sought to penalize employers who hire illegal workers by suspending or revoking business licenses.

In that case, the federal appeals court ruled in favor of Arizona. Business and civil rights groups appealed, and the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear the case in December; a decision is pending.

The two cases underscore how federal courts and states are increasingly wrestling with immigration laws.

Last month, Utah passed an immigration law that granted police broader powers to check the immigration status of individuals, as well as creating a guest-worker program for illegal immigrants with no criminal history.

And at least a dozen states are considering adopting their own patchwork of immigration rules.

The court’s decision should serve as another reminder to both the White House and Congress that immigration reform can't be put off forever.


Analysis: Arizona's shift on illegal immigration

Documents: Read the decision to uphold block on Arizona immigration law

Photos from the archives: Protest against Arizona immigration law in Los Angeles

Will state attorney general support limiting Secure Communities?

Arizona's Rep. Jeff Flake shifts support from comprehensive reform

--Sandra Hernandez

Photo: Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, shown in February, asked the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to lift an injunction blocking an Arizona immigration law. Credit: Jack Kurtz / Associated Press


Comments () | Archives (24)

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This entire case is nothing more than grandstanding on the part of Republicans. The Governor of Arizona famously lied about the extent of violence and crime and was called out on it. In a political climate like Arizona has, Republicans have had absolute control of both houses of the state legislature and the Governorship since Brewer took office. As the state continues to fail by every objective measurement imaginable, Republicans have been trying to find a scapegoat for their failings. The big brown boogeyman is just their latest attempt to keep attention away from them. The sad part is, it's working. One can quickly spot a dunce in this nation by asking their thoughts on SB1070. If you're for it, you're a fool- duped into picking on your vulnerable neighbors by a party devoid of ideas and morality- out to save it's own @ss at someone else's expense


Bottom line is that the illegal alien lobby and the dem leftists want the invasion from Mexico to continue. They will use any method or tool to continue to drag America down under the weight of people who enter our country to without permission. The invasion must and will be stopped. Americans are fed up with these freeloaders


@James: These so called "vulnerable neighbors" as you term them are lawbreakers who have broken America's laws by entering our country illegally. It is as simple as that.


Can you expect any other result from the 9th circuit court. The most liberal/progressive court in the nation.


The intentions of Arizona’s legislators who drafted the bill were obviously using immigration as a smoke screen to marginalize and suppress a growing Hispanic influence in the state.


How do the supporters of this Arizona law feel about the fact that the campaign to adopt it was largely funded by the prison-for-profit lobby in Arizona. Surprised no one brings up that fact.

Don Oster

I always wonder why the Left always supports the law brakers and thwarts established law-abiding people. I can not understand why the Left prefers to have Illegals coming into this country to having a civilized, orderly accounting of who enters, where they plan to visit, what they plan to do and when they plan to leave like most civilizations.

For some reason legal and illegal are do not have different meanings to the left. Look at the headlines about anti-imigration laws, very few Americans are against immigration, we used to be a country of legal immigrants, now the left has confused the issue.

I am all for immigration, how about if we just enforce the laws we already have on the books and forget about winning the next election by demonizing the few who want order.


"Bottom line is that the illegal alien lobby and the dem leftists want the invasion from Mexico to continue."

And who is the "illegal alien lobby?" AIPAC? And why would anyone want the "invasion" to continue unless they were looking for cheap labor, as Republicans and conservatives always do?

I think you have things reversed.

Mitchell Young


A full year before SB1070, the Republican dominated AZ legislature passed employer sanction legislation -- whereby businesses found to have repeatedly employed illegal workers have their licenses revoked. The Obama administration, along with business groups and the usual ethnic lobbies, sued to stop *that* legislation.

As far as the illegal alien lobby, I suggest you look at the post regarding the Security Communities program. In the comments you'll find lots of people who do very well indeed financially by promoting illegal immigration, must supported by the National Immigration Law Center, a front for the immigration lawyers.

@Raymond Gutierrez

Perhaps it is groups like National Council of La Raza who wish to increase their own influence by promoting illegal immigration to the detriment not only of native-born Americans (particularly the working class), but to legal immigrant (who are in the most direct competition with illegals).


Are you guys expected President, who's aunt illegally in US, to protect legal Americans, white/black/latino/asian origin? Dream on, Obama sells Americans by millions every time he calls Holder and anti American Co.


This governor is as ugly as her politics!!


I am A American and I suport tuff Imigration laws they should al be Felones.


What crime can legal citizens commit that is illegal for police to arrest them? Not sure I understand this ILLEGAL immigrant protection.


The intentions of Arizona’s legislators who drafted the bill were obviously using immigration as a smoke screen to marginalize and suppress a growing Hispanic influence in the state.

When that "growing Hispanic influence" is due to half a million illegal aliens from Mexico entering it illegally, then Arizona has not only a right but a duty to protect its citizens. And Raymond, would you be so generous if it were MY Arab relatives who were entering Arizona or the U.S. illegally, and NOT Hispanics? (For that matter, the richest man in Mexico and the entire world is a so-called Mexican of Lebanese parentage, so one can hardly consider "Hispanic" to be a race or anything other than the ethnicity that it is.)


James, like so many on the outer extremes of political viewpoints, you paint the scene with much too broad a brush. A legitimate concern about the problem of illegal immigration is definitely part of the motivation behind laws like SB1070. The Federal Government, per President Obama's edict, has chosen to refrain from fully enforcing existing Federal immigration laws, because, as Democrats have historically done, he is pandering to the Hispanic and Latino vote and hoping that those illegal immigrants who will inevitably become citizens through "immigration reform" will vote for Democrats in recognition of his decision. While SB1070 may ultimately be found to be entirely, or at least partially, unconstitutional, it is inappropriate to label those in favor of it "dunces." While Brewer's comments about border beheadings were wrong, that does not mean that there have been numerous instances of crimes, both violent and nonviolent, committed by illegal immigrants. One needs only to look at the police blotters here in southern California to see that.

Mitchell Young

BTW I wish the Times would stop pretending that anything out there now as far as legislation is concerned is 'Comprehensive Immigration Reform'. It isn't. It is amnesty -- or if you prefer, forgiveness of immigrations coupled with a reward of eventual citizenship in return for a 'fine' of far less than the going rate people will pay to immigrate legally (check out immigration lawyers' fees). In return, maybe, just maybe, the Democrats and the Hispanic Caucus will allow us to 'enforce' the immigration laws in an effective manner. That is, until the ACLU and MALDEF and NCLR start their lawsuits.

Nothing out there addresses total numbers of *legal* immigrants -- close to a million even during times of near 10% employment. None of it addresses the way the vast majority of those immigrants are selected -- namely nepotism, whereby recent immigrants sponsor adult parents, adult siblings, and so on. This has the bizarre effect of allowing the most recent members of the 'club' select new members, while those of us whose ancestors have been here for generations, whose forefathers fought in the wars and helped build the country, have just about zero say in who gets in.

Scottsdale Jack

"A full year before SB1070, the Republican dominated AZ legislature passed employer sanction legislation" - sorry Mitchell, but you are dead wrong on that. The employer sanction legislation was passed by citizen initiative here in Arizona, not by lawmakers. The Republican lawmakers here are slaves to the corporate class and would never pass any law that would penalize business owners. After it was passed, the Republican lawmakers added some amendments to gut the law, including one that grandfathered existing illegal workers - employers would only be penalized if they hired new illegals. Business owners in Arizona benefit enormously by hiring illegals.


9th CIRCUS strikes again...always get shot down ny the Supremes....just waiting for the libs on the 9th to get overturned AGAIN....

Mitchell Young

Fair enough Scottsdale Jack, I stand corrected on just how the employer sanctions were passed. But I stand by my statement that the 'usual suspects' -- including the Obama admin, NCLR, etc are the ones attacking it, and I know the Brewer admin is defending it to the hilt (i.e. SCOTUS), unlike the case with 187 in California, where the then Democratic governor basically took a dive by accepting a lower court ruling.

Oh, wait, I usually take people's words for things, but according to this report at azcentral (I think run by the MSM Star), the sanctions legislation was in fact legislation sponsored by none other than the dreaded Russell Pierce (R)


by Mary Jo Piztl,
Sept. 7, 2008
The Ninth U.S. Circuit of Appeals has upheld the state's employer-sanctions law, saying that the nine-month-old law does not supercede federal law.

The ruling is a victory for the state and the bill's principal sponsor, Rep. Russell Pearce, R-Mesa.

"We knew we were on solid ground," Pearce said. "Arizona has a constitutional right to insist that employers follow the law."

Maybe there are some subtleties I am unaware of, but sure seems like the Republican governor and legislature put those employer sanctions through.


The law will pass if it goes to SCOTUS, and all 50 states can adopt it. Well done Governor Brewer, you did your job perfectly.


So whatever the impact of illegal aliens - be they genuine or exaggerated - the people and government of Arizona are just supposed to put up with it. If the federal government will not protect them, they are not allowed to do anything to protect themselves. And if those illegal aliens have children and want public services for their "citizen" babies, law-abiding taxpayers are just supposed to quietly foot the bill.

impoundguy, Los Angeles, Ca.

So the Feds get to make the laws they won't enforce...NICE!

Ron H

The most overturned Federal court has spoke again, and wrong again.

What bunch of 9eve judges. Judges are suppose to see if the law are constitutional, not be a social experiment judges and create what they think what is constitutional for the day.

Who really cares what the third world country like Mexico, El Salvador, and all the loser South American countries think about our immigration law? I noticed the article failed, as usual for L. A. Times, that the judge that wrote the decision included the feeling of the other Spanish speaking coutries that are illegally invading our country.


And the majority judge ruled that foreign countries can pre-empt State law! (leading to a pre-emption of Constitutional right by treaty?) It's all in the crafting. If Arizona had crafted a criminal trespass statute against illegal aliens (outlaws), that would have placed the critical issue squarely in focus, the ability of a state to police its own turf regardless of immigration status, particularly in the absence of Federal enforcement. It's not about regulating immigration, it's about policing illegal aliens, a distinction with a Constitutional difference. The decision showed no sensitivity to State sovereignty in general policing notwithstanding a clear Constitutional mandate that the Feds protect against foreign invasion. And, as Judge Bea acknowledged, Congress clearly intended the shared jurisdiction in verifying immigration status. All in all, mandamus would have been the preferable remedy.



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