Arizona’s immigration law, the Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act, Senate Bill 1070 (SB 1070), was signed into law by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer on April 23, 2010. The law makes it a state crime to be in the United States illegally and, among other things, permits police officers to ask about a person’s immigration status if the officer has reasonable suspicion that the person is in the United States illegally and the officer is engaged in a lawful stop, detention or arrest. The law also makes it a state crime to stop a vehicle and impede traffic in order to hire a day laborer, and to transport, harbor or conceal an illegal immigrant while committing a separate criminal offense.

The United States filed a complaint in the US District Court for the District of Arizona challenging the constitutionality of SB 1070 and seeking a preliminary injunction to enjoin the state from enforcing SB 1070 until the court rules on the constitutionality of the state law. The district court granted the motion of the United States in part.

The court’s ruling prevents four provisions of Arizona’s law from going into effect on the ground that the United States is likely to succeed on the merits in showing that these particular sections of SB 1070 are preempted by federal law. The provisions at issue are the sections:

  • requiring that an officer make a reasonable attempt to determine the immigration status of a person stopped, detained or arrested if there is a reasonable suspicion that the person is unlawfully present in the United States, and requiring verification of the immigration status of any person arrested prior to releasing that person;
  • making it a crime to fail to apply for or carry alien registration papers;
  • making it a crime for an unauthorized alien to solicit, apply for, or perform work; and
  • authorizing the warrantless arrest of a person where there is probable cause to believe the person has committed a public offense that makes the person removable from the United States.

Arizona attempted to appeal the injunction on an expedited basis, but on July 30, 2010 the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals denied Arizona’s motion. Arizona’s appeal is currently scheduled to be heard the first week of November.

The injunction does not affect the Legal Arizona Workers Act (LAWA) (for additional information on the LAWA, see our July 2007, December 2007 and February 2008 Immigration Alerts), and Arizona employers are still required to comply with the LAWA including using E-Verify to check the employment eligibility of new hires. A challenge to the LAWA is pending review by the US Supreme Court.