He rules against requirement that officers check immigration status
PHOENIX — A judge has blocked the most controversial sections of Arizona’s new immigration law from taking effect Thursday, handing a major legal victory to opponents of the crackdown.
The law will still take effect Thursday, but without many of the provisions that angered opponents — including sections that required officers to check a person’s immigration status while enforcing other laws. The judge also put on hold a part of the law that required immigrants to carry their papers at all times, and made it illegal for undocumented workers to solicit employment in public places.
U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton put those controversial sections on hold until the courts resolve the issues.
Opponents say the law will lead to racial profiling and is trumped by federal immigration law.
Ahead of Thursday, police across the state, which borders Mexico, were scrambling to train officers how to avoid racial profiling.
The hardest-line approach is expected in the Phoenix area, where Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio plans his 17th crime and immigration sweep. He plans to hold the sweep, regardless of any ruling by U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton.
Arpaio, known for his tough stance against illegal immigration, plans to send about 200 deputies and volunteers out, looking for traffic violators, people wanted on criminal warrants and others. He’s used that tactic before to arrest dozens of people, many of them illegal immigrants.
“We don’t wait. We just do it,” he said. “If there’s a new law out, we’re going to enforce it.”
He said that the space he made in the complex of military surplus tents can handle 100 people, and that he will find room for more if necessary.
Mexico gets ready
A march from the state Capitol is planned at dawn, followed by a prayer service, a rally outside Arpaio’s office and later that afternoon a concert outside a Maricopa County jail, according to the Los Angeles-based National Day Laborer Organizing Network.
Elsewhere in the state, police officials said they didn’t expect any dramatic events. They were busy wrapping up training sessions this week, with some agencies saying that untrained officers will not be allowed on the streets.
In Mexico, the nation’s Foreign Relations Department issued a statement Tuesday saying it was stepping up consular aid for its citizens in Arizona, in preparation for implementation of the law.
The department said Mexico has sent additional personnel and resources to its five consulates in Arizona to provide personal and legal help and “is prepared to implement any immediate measures necessary to protect the rights of Mexicans in Arizona, regardless of their immigration status.”
Many of Arizona’s 15,000 police officers have been watching a video released this month that says signs that might indicate a person is an illegal immigrant are speaking poor English, looking nervous or traveling in an overcrowded vehicle. It warned that race and ethnicity do not.
Some agencies added extra materials, including a test, a role-playing exercise or a question-and-answer session with prosecutors.
‘Law is poorly constructed’
Critics of the law among police chiefs remain, saying that the law is so vague that no amount of training could eliminate potential confusion.
“Am I going to sit here and say I think every officer has a clear understanding of the law when they leave the training?” Tucson Police Chief Roberto Villasenor said. “No, because I think the law is poorly constructed.”
Arizona’s law gives police two options to confirm whether a detainee is an illegal immigrant.
Virginia Kice, a spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, declined to comment on preparations or the role federal authorities would play in enforcing the law, except to say ICE “focuses first on criminal aliens who pose a threat to our communities.”