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

April 11, 2011 |  3:25 pm

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.

RELATED:  

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

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