An Arizona federal court judge has dissolved a preliminary injunction that was blocking enforcement of a controversial provision of Arizona’s Senate Bill 1070. Under the provision, law enforcement officials are required to determine the immigration status of any person stopped under state or local law if reasonable suspicion exists that the person is unlawfully present in the U.S. The provision was the only portion of S.B. 1070 to have survived the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 25, 2012 (see U.S. Supreme Court Holds Several Provisions of Arizona's Immigration Bill Preempted, But Most Controversial Provision Survives).
The U.S. Supreme Court held that parts of S.B. 1070, including those portions that would have made it a crime for an illegal immigrant to apply for jobs or for an immigrant not to carry identification, were preempted by the federal government’s authority to regulation immigration matters. In upholding the “stop and check” provision of S.B. 1070, the divided Supreme Court concluded that the provision could be interpreted so as to escape federal preemption and, therefore, it should be allowed to be implemented. In so doing, however, the majority noted that its decision did not foreclose future preemption and constitutional challenges to the law.
Now that the preliminary injunction has been dissolved, law enforcement officials in Arizona may move forward to implement the “stop and check” provision, which Arizona Governor Jan Brewer described as the “heart of S.B. 1070” following the Supreme Court’s ruling.
This is certainly not the end of the legal drama that has followed Arizona’s enactment of several immigration laws over the last few years. We can expect to see new lawsuits as state and local law enforcement officials begin to implement the “stop and check” provision of S.B. 1070.