The two most contentious aspects of the controversial Arizona law SB 1070, sections that called for Az. police officers to check a person's immigration status while enforcing other laws and that required immigrants to carry their residency documents at all times, have been blocked by a federal court judge in Phoenix. United States District Court Judge Susan Bolton said some other aspects of the law could go into effect as scheduled on Thursday, but these two key components of the Az. law which drew the most criticism nationally, provoking outrage and boycotts across the country, would be stayed while she continued to hear the larger issues in the challenges to the law.

"Preserving the status quo through a preliminary injunction is less harmful than allowing state laws that are likely preempted by federal law to be enforced," she said.

In her ruling, Bolton wrote: "There is a substantial likelihood that officers will wrongfully arrest legal resident aliens. By enforcing this statute, Arizona would impose a 'distinct, unusual and extraordinary' burden on legal resident aliens that only the federal government has the authority to impose."

Los Angeles' Cardinal Roger Mahony wrote a brief reaction on his blog: "I am grateful that U.S. District Court Judge Susan Bolton ruled today that the most egregious sections of the Arizona Senate Bill 1070 were not allowable under Federal law and ordered those halted.

"This entire Arizona attempt to deal with various immigration issues outside Federal law reveals once again the level of frustration across the country that the U.S. Congress will not deal with the pressing issue of needed immigration reform. Without needed Congressional action, local communities and states will continue to propose stop-gap measures which do not address all aspects of needed immigration reform."

"Pleased, we are," was John Young’s reaction to Bolton's decision. Young is the exective director of the U.S. Bishops Conference's Office on Migration and Refugee Affairs. "This is a good and rightful decision," he said.

"Our bishops made it very clear some weeks ago that we were not at all satisfied with this law . . . We would have been happy if the whole thing had been vitiated, but it was not," said Young, who was content to see that the most controversial aspects of the law had been thrown out. He called the decision a good outcome which suggests, whatever legal appeals may lie ahead, that the most potentially discriminatory components of SB 1070 will not survive further court scrutiny. Young said he would not be surprised to see the matter eventually end up before the U.S. Supreme Court before it is ultimately resolved.

Speaking as an African American who is old enough to remember America’s segregation era, Young compared the Arizona law, copycat state initiatives it inspired and the hundreds of municipal ordinances and laws on immigration to the hodge podge of state and local Jim Crow laws that once enforced discrimination against African Americans. During segregation, "We had laws at every level," he said, laws that were respected by other states until the Jim Crow era was upended by a U.S. Supreme Court decision. Would he like to see a contemporary court similarly make straight the hundreds of localized laws and rulings on undocumented immigrants today? "That would be wonderful," Young said.

Here's the coverage from the N.Y. Times.

For more: USCCB's Justice for Immigrants campaign

Kevin Clarke

Comments

Anonymous | 7/29/2010 - 12:04pm
I understand that there were other states that had similar or even stricter laws in effect prior to Arizona.  Two are Missouri and Rhode Island.  It is not clear yet how this decision will affect their laws that have been enforced now for a few years with out any uproar.
Ashley Green | 7/29/2010 - 11:28am
Very well said, Keving Mulcahy.  It continues to both amaze and exasperate me how so many people of professed Christian faith steadfastly refuse to acknowledge the human side of the illegal immigration issue: the morally compelling facts that the vast majority of the immigrants who crossed the border illegally did so because they were in desperate circumstances, having woefully inadequate access to the most basic of human necessities including food, shelter, and medicine and that mass deprotations would result in the breakup of thousands or millions of families (children separated from parents, husbands from wives, etc.).  Also, the level of vitriol that has been spewed at undocumented immigrants and their documented family members on radio talkshows, online message boards, etc. is very much akin to the mob mentality that has been responsible for countless violations of justice throughout the history of human civilization.  If only, for once, we as a nation would refuse to go down that road once again.  There are ways to resolve this humanitarian crisis in a humane and compassionate way.  As Christians, the question that we must always ask ourselves is: what would Jesus do?  Or do we even truly care?
KEVIN MULCAHY | 7/29/2010 - 9:48am
Certainly there are legitimate concerns about border security, but it is sad and frightening how immigrants can be demonized by some in this debate.  There is a clear continuity between the rhetoric used to describe current Hispanic immigrants (legal and otherwise) and the rhetoric used to describe virtually every past group of immigrants in our country-inferior, disease-carriers, prone to crime, incapable of being assimilated, etc.  Perhaps it places a special burden on those arguing for new laws and better enforcement of existing laws to recognize at all times the humanity of those they see the need to exclude from our country-most of whom are seeking the same opportunities our parents or grandparents did, and many of whom are children who have grown up in the US and know little or nothing of their native lands.  At the very least, "A Christian Nation" as many like to proclaim us, should enforce laws with compassion and a sense of the human worth and dignity even of people deemed illegal.
Tom Maher | 7/29/2010 - 12:13am
It too bad the church and the Obama admisistration ignore the legitimate security needs of the citizens of Arizona and then attempt to expoit the the anarchy on our southern borders as racism.  The lawlessness on our borders with Mexico is out of control.  Most Americans squarely support Arizona demand for secure borders. 

Both the church and the Obama administration authority and judgement are deminished by the  failure to address and support the security needs of the people of Arizona.   This is a foul devisive act of exploitation.  It is unacceptable to most Americans to compare Arizona attemp their state due to the failure of the dederal government to secure our borders.   The politics of lawlessness and racial divison is exteremely unwise and reckless for the church and the Obama admisistration to play with.  Attempting to dennying the people of Arizona legitimate rigth for personal security from the mayhem on the border is exteremely delusional and ill advised.  No good will come of this aborant indifference to the people of Arizona.   This neglect will powerfully divide the United States anb poison the political climate, preventing the reststoration of peace and security in our own country.   

Our country will not be at peace with itself ??o?u?r? ???????????borders are effectively secured. 
Anonymous | 7/28/2010 - 9:15pm
We don't need "immigration reform"; we just need to enforce the existing laws against illegal immigration.  Rewarding lawbreakers with a shortened path to citizenship sets a dangerous precedent.  The government has a duty to prosecute those who break its laws; without enforcement, we have anarchy.