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Rocky Future Predicted for What's Left of SB 1070

June 26, 2012

PHOENIX - Opponents of Arizona's SB1070 law say Monday's Supreme Court ruling is a first step in defeating the entire law.

Director Juanita Molina of Tucson-based Border Action Network says the fight against the controversial immigration law is a marathon, not a sprint.

"It mirrors the struggles that existed during civil rights, where in the '50s and '60s there were a series of laws that supported segregation. And those laws also supported the social norms of oppression."

The court left in place the section requiring police to check immigration status if they have reasonable suspicion that a person is undocumented. Governor Jan Brewer calls the ruling "a victory for the rule of law," and says it upholds the heart of SB1070.

However, managing attorney Karen Tumlin of the National Immigration Law Center says the Supreme Court's decision opens up a possible path for having the status checks struck down if people are detained by officers for an excessive time while their immigration status is investigated.

"If individuals have their detention prolonged because of the immigration questions, that could be a separate constitutional reason to block the law."

A separate case, the so-called "Friendly House" lawsuit brought by Border Action Network, the ACLU, and others, includes racial profiling claims which were not addressed in the high court's decision. Tumlin says a profiling challenge to the status-check portion of the law may be pursued when and if the law actually takes effect.

"Police chiefs across the country have said that there's no way to implement that provision without inappropriately looking at race, ethnicity and language that an individual speaks. And that is why we call it the racial-profiling provision."

Despite the Supreme Court's ruling, the injunction blocking the status-check section of SB1070 from taking effect is still in place. Tumlin says it typically takes several weeks before a case is "mandated down" to the lower court to lift the injunction.

"That's a really critical point for Arizona, that law enforcement do not have the authority today or tomorrow to begin these status checks."

Tumlin says the "Friendly House" coalition has already been successful in blocking the day-labor provision of SB1070.

Doug Ramsey, Public News Service - AZ