What’s Next for Arizona’s SB 1070?

Activists storm the state as lawyers hunker down for a long fight.

By Julianne Hing Jul 29, 2010

This morning at 12:01 a.m., SB 1070 went into effect in the state of Arizona. The most controversial portions of the law were blocked by Judge Susan Bolton when she issued her injunction ruling yesterday. But protesters are streaming into the Phoenix area today from all over the Southwest for a day of action and civil disobedience. Several groups have vowed not to comply with SB 1070. Meanwhile, the modified law went into effect alongside promises from Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio to conduct another of his infamous immigration sweeps today. It will be his seventeenth. "I don’t think the activists should be celebrating in the streets yet," Arpaio told the Arizona Capitol Times. It should be an interesting day in the Grand Canyon State. In its original language, SB 1070 would have made it a state crime to be caught without papers in Arizona, and would have allowed police officers to question any person’s legal status while enforcing state and local law, and even civil code–like failing to recycle, or not cleaning up the weeds in your front yard. The law would have mandated that a police officer question any person they had "reasonable suspicion" to believe was undocumented. Further, a person who was arrested would have to be held in custody until their immigration status was confirmed. These are the parts of SB 1070 that were enjoined yesterday. Judge Bolton blocked those portions temporarily so she can preside over the lengthy court proceedings to now determine the constitutionality of those provisions. Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, who signed SB 1070 into law in April to great fanfare and controversy, dismissed the temporary injunction as "a little bump in the road." "The federal government got relief from the courts not to do their job," she told reporters yesterday. "They need to step up, the feds do, to do the job they have the responsibility to do." She indicated that she planned to immediately appeal the injunction. If filed, that appeal will be heard by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. "This is an injunction, they haven’t heard the merits of the bill," Brewer said. "This is just an injunction, this is just an injunction." The portions of SB 1070 that still stand targed day laborers. They include a new statewide ban on entering a car when hired to work, and conversely, hiring someone who’s entering a car that would obstruct the flow of traffic. Judge Bolton blocked another part that makes it illegal to seek labor. Bolton did not enjoin the portions of SB 1070 that allow for the impounding of a car that’s found to belong to a person who’s undocumented or is used to transport people who are undocumented. Neither did Bolton enjoin a section that amends employer sanctions and adds new provisions against transporting and harboring undocumented immigrants. A provision barring cities in Arizona from forming "sanctuary" cities was also allowed to stand. Yesterday’s ruling was a response to the Department of Justice lawsuit against Arizona, and there are three outstanding motions for injunctions that Bolton did not respond to, although she mentioned the other cases in her ruling. Linton Joaquin, an attorney with the National Immigrant Law Center, which is one of the organizational plaintiffs in the class action lawsuit, said on a telebriefing yesterday that there’s still a long road ahead for SB 1070. Attorneys from both sides will now return to Bolton’s courtroom to begin the real proceedings, debating the constitutionality of the disputed portions of SB 1070–both those that were enjoined and those that were allowed to go into effect. That process could take months. The Department of Justice’s lawsuit against the state of Arizona rests on one clause in the Constitution, which says unequivocally that the federal government alone has the right to create and enforce immigration law. Of course there are many exceptions and tests to what’s called the Supremacy Clause–[complicated somewhat](/archives/2010/07/in_arizona_feds_struggle_to_slay_an_immigration_monster_they_built.html) by the fact that the federal government actually does authorize local governments to assist in immigration enforcement, in the form of 287(g) and Secure Communities programs. The collection of six other lawsuits against SB 1070 charge that the law contains a slew of other constitutional violations ([see our graphic breaking those suits down](/archives/2010/07/post_77.html)). While attorneys hunker down for a lengthy legal battle, activists are ready to take to the streets today. Joaquin said now is also the time for people to diligently document their interactions with police and law enforcement. Already, reports abound of Arizonans who’ve been stopped by the police asking for their papers. People are already gathered in Phoenix today to join a hundred-day vigil that’s been going ever since Brewer signed SB 1070 into law on April 23. People met at 6 a.m. for a mass before marching to Sheriff Arpaio’s office at 8 a.m. Vans of supporters are caravanning into the state, and dozens of solidarity actions have been planned from Brooklyn to Los Angeles today. We’ll have images from those events later today. Immigrant rights groups in Arizona are far from ready to claim victory yet. And many are trying to use the momentum against SB 1070 to demand an end to 287(g) and Secure Communities programs that allow for SB 1070-like enforcement and have been quietly unveiled in hundreds of cities. But Judge Bolton’s ruling gives reason for cautious hope, at least in the short term. "The judge ruled that Arizona cannot decide we are going to be a ‘papers please’ state for every person of color," said Isabel Garcia, a co-chair of the immigrant rights organization Derechos Humanos. "We have the wind on our backs in a very, very long road to restoring civil rights protections to the state of Arizona," National Day Laborer Organizing Network legal director Chris Newman said yesterday. "We will continue all of our efforts on all fronts, legal, political and community organizing, to restore civil rights to immigrants and people of color in the state of Arizona." The temperatures are already in the 90s in Phoenix, and there’s talk of possible thunderstorms today–whether they’ll come rom the skies or from the rising immigrant rights movement, it’s hard to tell.