It has been right around four years since Governor Jan Brewer signed the controversial Senate Bill (SB) 1070 into law. Since then, there have been court cases and other legal issues stemming from the legislation. On April 21 of this year, the U.S. Supreme Court chose to refuse to hear an appeal regarding a blocked provision of the law. This was not happy news for Gov. Brewer, as she has been trying to defend the immigration enforcement law.
In its recent decision, the Court “declined to review the ruling that barred police from arresting people who harbor those living in the states” without documentation. Prior to the Supreme Court's decision, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals blocked police from enforcing the prohibition because the policy was “vague and trumped by federal law, which already forbids harboring people in the country unlawfully.”
Karen Tumlin, an attorney who represents civil rights groups that are challenging the law, commented shortly after the April 21 decision. “It's another indicator that Arizona is fighting a losing battle legally and politically,” she said.
Meanwhile, Andrew Wilder, a spokesperson for Gov. Brewer had something different to say. Wilder commented that “the governor is disappointed that the Supreme Court didn't take up her appeal, calling it another blow to the state's power to ensure the public's safety.” Wilder went on to say that the state of Arizona is losing its ability to fight against criminal elements associated with undocumented immigration.
This is not the first provision in SB 1070 that has been struck down by the courts. Examples include sections of the law that called for immigrants to carry registration papers and a prohibition on individuals who are in the country without documentation from seeking job opportunities in public places.
However, the court has also affirmed parts of the law. Take, for instance, the requirement that officers, while enforcing any laws, need to question the immigration status of those who are suspected of being in the United States without the proper documentation. That provision has been largely diminished by the harboring ban.
The ban had been in effect for a two-year period before it came to an end in September 2012. U.S. District Court Judge Susan Bolton had made a statement near the end of the ban that no arrests had been made under that section of the law. There are still two challenges pending at the federal court level regarding SB 1070. At this time, there has not been a trial date set for either of those matters.
SB 1070 was implemented, in part, because the Arizona legislature did not think that the federal government was doing as much as it could be to combat undocumented immigration. It was passed in 2010 and was considered to be “attrition by enforcement.” This term is used when a policy places so many restrictions on undocumented immigrants, they'd rather “give up and go home.”
However, before SB 1070 could take full effect, the U.S. tried to block it by going to federal court. The U.S. argued that the legislation violates the U.S. Constitution because it cannot trump federal immigration laws.