Updates on Arizona Immigration Law

In April of 2010, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed SB 1070 into law. The law, which sparked much debate across the country, gave police new powers to stop individuals who might be considered illegal immigrants. Police had the authority to check for immigration status when stopping an individual for a routine violation (such as a traffic violation).

Supporters of the Arizona law claimed that the law was needed to fight the high number of undocumented immigrants flooding the state and the country. Advocates of the law also claim that the law is needed because federal authorities are doing too little to close the border to illegal immigration. Supporters of the law also claim that the law makes Arizona safer by removing immigrants who may be criminals and who have already broken the law by entering the country illegally.

Opponents argued that the law was too strict and punished undocumented immigrants when in fact greedy employers – looking for cheap, undocumented labor – were at fault. Opponents also claim that the law encouraged racial stereotyping by police. Some media outlets are claiming that support and opposition of the law is divided along racial lines, with some news broadcasts citing public opinion polls that claim 70% of American Caucasians have supported the Arizona law while 70% of Hispanic Americans oppose it.

By August, areas of Phoenix and other major cities with large Latin American populations were reporting that many immigrants were leaving the state. Major media outlets claimed that tens of thousands of undocumented workers left the state following the new law. Some claimed that the workers headed for Utah, Colorado, Texas, and other states with less strict laws. It was difficult for journalists to confirm the numbers, however, since no precise number exists of the number of undocumented immigrants in the US or any state.

In late July 2010, U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton changed the law by striking down part of the law. Among the areas of the law that were challenged was the part of the law which make it illegal to solicit work. Judge Bolton also struck down the clause requiring authorities to determine the immigration status of anyone who they suspected might be an undocumented immigrant. Another blocked provision was one requiring immigrants to carry their documentation with them at all times. Arizona Governor Jan Brewer stated after the ruling that she will file an appeal in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in order to have the blocked provisions reinstated.