This morning, a federal judge in Phoenix heard arguments over whether Arizona’s SB 1070 should be blocked before July 29, when it is scheduled to go into effect. SB 1070 makes it a state crime to be undocumented in Arizona, and allows police officers to inquire about the legal status of anyone they stop if they have a “reasonable suspicion” to believe the person does not have papers.

Today’s hearing was convened to discuss two of the legal challenges against SB 1070, one filed by Phoenix police officer David Salgado, and another from the immigrant rights non-profit Chicanos Por La Causa. Salgado’s lawsuit argues that SB 1070, a state law, violates the Constitution, which says that only the federal government has the right to create immigration law. Salgado also will argue that SB 1070 will lead to racial profiling. The state is expected to counter by saying that fears of racial profiling are based on speculation. The AP reports that U.S District Judge Susan Bolton also heard arguments in Gov. Jan Brewer’s counter request to dismiss these lawsuits.

A total of seven lawsuits, mostly from immigrant and civil rights groups, have been filed against Arizona. The Department of Justice has also sued the state. Immigrant and civil rights groups have argued that because SB 1070 allows race to be one of the factors police can consider when deciding who to pull over, the law will legalize racial profiling, and open up the state to widespread racial discrimination. Groups also argue that at its most basic level, SB 1070 criminalizes people of color and immigrants, no matter their status. SB 1070 argues that the law is not overreaching, and merely reiterates existing federal law.

The AP reports that Judge Bolton’s courtroom was packed, and outside dozens of protesters shouted chants, both in support and against the law, which was signed into law in April. Hearings for the other six lawsuits, including the injunction hearing, will happen next week.

Photo: Creative Commons/Eric E Johnson

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