SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — A federal appeals court in San Francisco on Monday blocked four key provisions of Arizona’s controversial immigration law.
A panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, ruling in a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Justice Department, said the statute interfered with the federal government’s authority to make and enforce immigration law.
The court upheld a preliminary injunction issued by a federal trial judge in Phoenix against the four sections of the law, which was enacted last year.
One section that was blocked is a requirement that state and local police in Arizona must determine the immigration status of people whom they arrest or stop for other reasons.
Circuit Judge Richard Paez wrote that the provision had the result of “turning Arizona officers into state-directed Department of Homeland Security agents.”
Another provision that was blocked was a section making it a crime for non-citizens to fail to carry immigration documents with them.
A three-judge panel of the appeals court unanimously agreed on blocking two of the provisions and ruled 2-1 in favor of suspending the other two provisions.
The court majority also said the Arizona law had a harmful effect on U.S. foreign policy.
Unless appealed further, the lower court injunction will now remain in effect until a trial on the Justice Department’s challenge to the entire law.
The appeals court said in its’ ruling that the federal government was likely to succeed at trial with its arguments that Congress has given the federal government sole authority to enforce immigration laws, and that the Arizona law violated the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
A spokesman for Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer had no immediate comment on whether the state would appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Brewer said last year that the law was passed in response to an ongoing crisis of illegal immigration into Arizona.
Brewer’s lawyers had argued in court that the federal government hadn’t effectively enforced immigration law and that the state law woudl assist federal authorities.
The passage of the law last year reignited an immigration debate that has simmered in Arizona and across the nation for years.
Opponents of the law protested in the streets as it was about to take effect and called for a boycott of the state. Proponents called the law a long overdue effort by a state that has been overburdened by illegal immigration and a lack of federal action on the issue.
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