(Hold off on that "Papers, please" thing. Photo illustration by William Carter.)Arizona's "Papers, please" immigration law needs a new name. U.S. District Court Judge Susan Bolton has placed a temporary injunction on sections of the immigration measure, including the part about "Papers, please." It was to take effect tomorrow.Judge Bolton ruled the federal government has a good chance to prove its case in its lawsuit against Arizona, at least on certain provisions of S.B. 1070. Bolton placed a hold on requiring police to determine whether someone is in the country legally, on requiring immigrants to carry their registration papers, and on warrantless arrests when police believe an immigrant has done something that would make them deportable. Under her detailed decision (pdf), it won't be a crime -- at least for now -- for immigrants to seek or do paid work. "[T]he United States is likely to suffer irreparable harm if the Court does not preliminarily enjoin enforcement of these sections of S.B. 1070," Bolton writes. She adds that enforcement of these provisions "would likely burden legal resident aliens and interfere with federal policy."
Activists had been planning to take to the streets tomorrow in protest of "Papers, please." It's not clear yet what will happen now. The Reverend Al Sharpton of the National Action Network issued this statement:
Today a judge has blocked key provisions in Arizona's immigration law which is a significant partial victory and the reason I have led marches in Arizona. I was prepared to spend this weekend in jail if necessary to protest the violation of the legal rights of citizens of Latino descent but based upon this ruling I will now asses how I will weigh in this weekend. This is clearly a step in the right direction and a victory in part for all Americans.
I think that translates, roughly, to "I won and now I don't have to go to jail." This, from "Papers, please" supporter Rep. Darrell Issa (R-California), is less clear, especially the second paragraph. Translation, anyone?
The federal government has a right and a responsibility to enforce existing laws, but when they fail to meet that responsibility, we should not stand in the way of the states that take action to respond to the very real threat of border violence, drug cartels and human smuggling. The people who live under the constant threat of border violence have every right to be protected and have every right to defend themselves, their families and their communities. I am certain that the Supreme Court would agree that there is no legal recourse or precedent for stopping a state from operating within its rights by asserting its sovereignty in support of immigration laws that the federal government has failed to enforce. There's nowhere in the Constitution that says a state is limited to what it absolutely won't do and can be stopped for what it might do and to exercise a judgment against a state that has passed a law that is consistent with existing federal law is beyond absurd."