A federal appeals court upheld Monday a lower court's block of much of Arizona's controversial SB 1070 law aimed at illegal immigration.
A three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the lower court "did not abuse its discretion" in blocking parts of the law from taking effect last year.
The decision, a victory for the Obama administration and immigration activists, means the SB 170 case will likely find its way to the Supreme Court.
U.S. District Court Judge Susan Bolton issued a preliminary injunction July 28 preventing sections of the anti-illegal immigration law from taking effect.
Parts of the law that were blocked:
The section that requires an officer make a reasonable attempt to determine the immigration status of a person stopped, detained or arrested if there's reasonable suspicion they're in the country illegally, and the section requiring that anyone arrested have their immigration status verified.
The section that creates a state crime of failure to apply for or carry "alien-registration papers."
The section that makes it a crime for illegal immigrants to solicit, apply for or perform work (but not the section on day laborers).
The section that allows for a warrantless arrest of a person where there is probable cause to believe they have committed a public offense that makes them removable from the United States.
Despite the significant holes the court blew in Arizona's claims, its nativist sponsors were quite confident about their prospects going foward:
One judge asked Arizona's lawyer, John Bouma, how the state could enforce federal law.
"If I don't pay my federal income tax, can the state make me?" the judge asked.
The appellate panel seemed not to have problems with police officers asking about immigration status, but struggled with the notion implicit in the law that detainees could be held indefinitely while their immigration status was confirmed.
The judges also questioned how a law enforcement officer could determine what constitutes a removable offense.
The ruling isn't unexpected. Bill sponsor Sen. Russell Pearce, R-Mesa, attended the hearing and predicted this outcome.
"We know this will survive," Pearce said of the law. "This is the most overturned court in the nation. We'll win it in the Supreme Court."
The appeals court ruling is expected to be appealed. The state can ask the 9th Circuit to revisit the issue en banc, which is by a larger panel of judges. It also could eventually be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Ignoring the example of Arizona -- which really has suffered economically because it passed SB1070 -- the geniuses running the Alabama Legislature are rushing to join them in ignominy.
Meanwhile, back in Arizona, some of the state's cooler heads are starting to bring some more intelligent thought processes to the issue -- in the form of some thought-provoking plays being put onstage for the public at the state capitol in Phoenix:
“Needless to say last year was a year in which Arizona caught the attention of the world,” said James Garcia, producing artistic director for the New Carpa Theatre Company. “In my work at the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce I was taking calls from Belgium and Germany and soforth, as well as those in the United States. In a way people were all asking the same question – why is there such a conflict over this issue? Why has it turned so ugly? I’ve been immersed in it since before the passage of Senate Bill 1070. I knew in some way, shape or form I had to deal with it as an artist as well.”
Garcia, an Ahwatukee Foothills resident, is a former journalist and a longtime playwright. He says he has written news stories and plays about immigration, but has also seen it first hand with his family from Mexico.
In recent years, Garcia has become more involved with community work and efforts to get the state to focus on things other than immigration. These short plays are part of that push to tell legislators to stop and let the federal government handle immigration.
Garcia sent out a message across the nation looking for short plays and performance pieces about immigration. He was pleasantly surprised when he he received 70 responses. Not only did he receive a wide variety of performances, but he said the work was very high quality.
“I sort of thought in my head, maybe prejudiced because I live here in the Southwest, that we were going to get plays about the border and about border patrol agents and immigrants from Mexico,” Garcia said. “That turned out not to be the case.”
The 12 works chosen for the final production show Irish immigrants in the prohibition era, Canadian immigrants, Native Americans, abstract ideas about building walls between cultures, as well as Mexican immigrants and the fears surrounding SB 1070.
Not that this will ever affect the Russell Pearces of the world. Tides can take awhile to turn -- but this is one that will, eventually, inexorably.