District judge protects rights by blocking law

I n Mexico they call it “la ley del odio”

— the law of hate. Indeed, President

Felipe Calderon had publicly condemned the act and Mexican border governors had said they would boycott a planned conference before it was moved from Arizona to New Mexico.

To many people, Arizona’s anti-immigration law that went into effect last week is codified hatred against specific groups based on nationality, ethnicity or appearance. They note that many of the stated methods of determining if a person’s nationality should be checked — literacy, accents, and yes, even appearance — will cause many native-born U.S. citizens to endure questioning, and even arrest if they don’t have proof of their citizenship.

Seven court challenges — one by the federal government — have been filed against Senate Bill 1070, which requires local law enforcement agencies in Arizona to enforce federal immigration law or face civil lawsuits. U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton last Wednesday stopped some provisions from taking effect, but noted that because SB 1070 is not a freestanding law but a set of additions and amendments to several other laws, she could not issue a blanket injunction.

Her order stops the prohibition of undocumented workers from seeking work in public places, and blocks the requirement that officers automatically check immigration status when enforcing other laws. It also blocks authorization of warrantless arrests of suspected undocumented immigrants and the requirement that all immigrants carry proof of legal residency at all times.

The judge correctly noted that while the law ostensibly targets illegal immigration, its enforcement goes beyond its stated provisions, since it “burdens lawfully present aliens because their liberty will be restricted while their status is checked.”

Mandatory evaluation of every arrested person’s immigration status, she noted, would have the effect of “increasing the intrusion of police presence into the lives of legally present aliens (and even United States citizens), who will necessarily be swept up by this requirement.”

The judge accepts federal arguments that by imposing state penalties that aren’t imposed elsewhere, the bill leads to an unequal application of federal law, and that an expected increase in requests to verify immigration status will divert resources from other federal offices, which indirectly affects all taxpayers.

Importantly, she also notes that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that intrusive police actions against legal immigrants can affect international relations and generate disloyalty against the United States.

In creating laws that can’t be enforced without reducing the freedoms and rights of people who have not violated any law, Arizona has done more than promote opposition to illegal residency in this country; it has shown little regard for the rights of people who are here legally, and fomented ill will toward this nation, both from other countries and from within.

In recognizing these facts, Judge Bolton raises hopes that while not throwing out SB 1070 in its entirety, she will preserve the basic rights upon which our country was founded — rights that our Founders asserted were innate, and not affected by nationality.