- Associated Press - Thursday, July 29, 2010

PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona is preparing to ask an appeals court to lift a judge’s ruling that put most of the state’s immigration law on hold in a key first-round victory for the federal government in a fight that may go to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Gov. Jan Brewer called Wednesday’s decision by U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton “a bump in the road” and vowed to appeal.

Paul Senseman, a spokesman for Ms. Brewer, said Arizona would ask the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco later Thursday to lift Judge Bolton’s preliminary injunction and to expedite its consideration of the state’s appeal.

Judge Bolton indicated the government has a good chance at succeeding in its argument that federal immigration law trumps state law. But the key sponsor of Arizona’s law, Republican Rep. Russell Pearce, said the judge was wrong and predicted the state would ultimately win the case.


Opponents of the law said the ruling sends a strong message to other states hoping to replicate the law.

“Surely it’s going to make states pause and consider how they’re drafting legislation and how it fits in a constitutional framework,” Dennis Burke, the U.S. attorney for Arizona, told the Associated Press. “The proponents of this went into court saying there was no question that this was constitutional, and now you have a federal judge who’s said, ‘Hold on, there’s major issues with this bill.’”

He added: “So this idea that this is going to be a blueprint for other states is seriously in doubt. The blueprint is constitutionally flawed.”

In her temporary injunction, Judge Bolton delayed the most contentious provisions of the law, including a section that required officers to check a person’s immigration status while enforcing other laws. She also barred enforcement of parts requiring immigrants to carry their papers and banned illegal immigrants from soliciting employment in public places — a move aimed at day laborers that congregate in large numbers in parking lots across Arizona. The judge also blocked officers from making warrantless arrests of suspected illegal immigrants.

“Requiring Arizona law enforcement officials and agencies to determine the immigration status of every person who is arrested burdens lawfully present aliens because their liberty will be restricted while their status is checked,” said Judge Bolton, a Clinton administration appointee who was assigned the seven lawsuits filed against Arizona over the law.

Other provisions that were less contentious were allowed to take effect Thursday, including a section that bars cities in Arizona from disregarding federal immigration laws.

The 11th-hour ruling came just as police were preparing to begin enforcement of a law that has drawn international attention and revived the national immigration debate in a year when Democrats are struggling to hold on to seats in Congress.

The ruling was anxiously awaited in the U.S. and beyond. About 100 protesters in Mexico City who had gathered at the U.S. Embassy broke into applause when they learned of the ruling via a laptop computer. Mariana Rivera, a 36-year-old from Zacatecas, Mexico, who is living in Phoenix on a work permit, said she heard about the ruling on a Spanish-language news program.

“I was waiting to hear because we’re all very worried about everything that’s happening,” said Ms. Rivera, who phoned friends and family with the news. “Even those with papers, we don’t go out at night at certain times, there’s so much fear [of police]. You can’t just sit back and relax.”

More demonstrators opposed to the law planned to gather Thursday, with the Los Angeles-based National Day Laborer Organizing Network and the immigrant-rights group Puente saying they would march from the state Capitol.

Demonstrations also were planned for outside Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s office, said activist Salvador Reza.

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