US District Judge Susan Bolton issued a temporary injunction today that halted key parts of SB 1070, the Arizona immigration law scheduled to go into effect tomorrow, that would have required police to check the immigration status of anyone they suspected of being an illegal resident.

Judge Bolton agreed to block the section of the law that required local and state law enforcement officials to check the immigration status of those they suspected were illegal immigrants. She said that “federal resources will be taxed and diverted from federal enforcement priorities as a result of the increase in requests for immigration status determination(s). ” She argued that the provision would create an impermissible burden on immigrants who are lawfully present in Arizona as well.

The judge also blocked a portion of the law that required state officials to check the immigration status of anyone in custody in Arizona before they were released from jail, saying that the state measure was preempted by federal law because such checks would swamp federal immigration officials who are pursuing different priorities. “The number of requests that will emanate from Arizona as a result of determining the status of every arrestee is likely to impermissibly burden federal resources and redirect federal agencies away from the priorities they have established,” Bolton wrote,

Also blocked by Judge Bolton was a section of the law that made it a state crime for any foreign resident of Arizona to fail to carry federally-issued immigration documents at all times and one that made it a state crime for an illegal foreign resident in Arizona to solicit, apply for, or perform work. In enjoining this part of the law, Judge Bolton said that establishing state penalties for violating a federal requirement altered the penalties established by Congress and thus stood as “an obstacle to the uniform, federal registration scheme.”

Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles, who has been one of the harshest critics of SB 1070, issued a statement on his blog praising the ruling. “I am grateful that U.S. District Court Judge Susan Bolton ruled today that the most egregious sections of the Arizona Senate Bill 1070 were not allowable under federal law and ordered those halted,” the cardinal said. But he warned: “Without needed Congressional action, local communities and states will continue to propose stop-gap measures which do not address all aspects of needed immigration reform.”

The Arizona Catholic Conference commended Judge Bolton for “enjoining some of the more problematic provisions of SB 1070”. In their statement, the bishops re-expressed their apprehensions about the measure, particularly its impact on family unity, and pledged to continue their advocacy against the provisions of the legislation as well as monitor the implementation of the provisions that have still been allowed to go into effect tomorrow.


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