PHOENIX (KGUN9-TV) - The arguments have ended. Now opponents and supporters of SB 1070, Arizona's tough new law cracking down on illegal immigration, can only wait to see what federal judge Susan Bolton will decide.
The afternoon hearing dealt exclusively with the federal government's lawsuit, which challenges SB 1070 on the grounds that it interferes with federal authority. The scene inside the Federal Courthouse Thursday afternoon was not as heated as expected. Just Susan Bolton tightly controlled the proceedings.
The judge immediately raised questions about SB 1070's provision for the mandatory arrest and detention of people suspected to be in the country illegally. As expected, Department of Justice lead attorney Edwin Kneedler argued that SB 1070 violates the U.S. Constitution's "supremacy clause," which gives the federal government exclusive authority to regulate immigration. Kneedler said that the new state law improperly gives Arizona the authority to take the lead on enforcing immigration law, and that it makes it mandatory for local law enforcement officers to verify a suspect's immigration status before releasing the detainee.
Governor Jan Brewer's lead attorney, John Bouma, countered that by arguing that SB 1070 merely mirrors existing federal immigration law. Bouma maintained that SB 1070 still requires ICE or Border Patrol to verify immigration status.
The feds then rebutted that if SB 1070 goes into effect, it will create a patchwork of state laws that would further conflict with the federal government's ability to enforce immigration law as one nation with one voice.
After the hearing, Governor Brewer told the assembled media that she's confident SB 1070 will hold up. "It's pretty apparent that Judge Bolton has a very good grasp in my opinion of the issues that were undertaken in there today," Brewer said. "She has a good understanding of the dangers that Arizonans face in regards to the harboring of illegals in the state of Arizona."
The hearings in the afternoon were the second of two for Judge Bolton. In the morning session, she heard arguments on a different set of lawsuits from various civil rights organizations.
During that session, Judge Bolton raised an issue that was explored in two recent 9 On Your Side Investigations: what happens when police pull someone over whose status is in limbo because of a pending application for asylum? Brewer's attorney, Bouma, argued that even if the detainee has no documentation on hand, the suspect will undergo a thorough check. Bouma said ICE should have their application information.
While lawyers argued in court, demonstrators protested outside. They unfurled a banner reading "we will not comply," then sat down in the middle of a busy intersection. They blocked traffic for about an hour before police waded in and started making arrests.
Plaintiffs are asking for a preliminary injunction that would prevent the law from taking effect on July 29. The defense is asking for immediate dismissal of the lawsuits.
Bouma did not indicate when she would make any rulings. But she did say that she does have the option of blocking portions of SB 1070, rather than throwing it out or approving the law in its entirety.
Click to view image: 'Pic 1'
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