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Arizona takes controversial immigration law to Supreme Court

By the CNN Wire Staff
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AZ takes immigration law to Supreme Court
  • NEW: "I'm confident that Arizona will emerge victorious from this legal fight," says Gov. Jan Brewer
  • NEW: She says the federal government has neglected its duty to secure the border
  • Judges have blocked implementation of Arizona's SB 1070
  • Brewer says the ruling harms "the safety and well-being of Arizonans"

(CNN) -- Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer said Monday she is "confident" the U.S. Supreme Court will lift the injunction on the state's controversial immigration law, known as SB 1070.

Brewer has asked the justices to lift the court order that is blocking enforcement of parts of the law, which the Obama administration opposes.

"For decades, the federal government has neglected its constitutional duty to secure the border. It is because of that negligence that Arizona was forced to take action to protect its citizens via SB 1070," said Brewer.

"I'm confident that Arizona will emerge victorious from this legal fight," she added.

Among other things, the legislation would have required local law enforcement in Arizona to apprehend and help deport illegal immigrants. The U.S. Justice Department sued, arguing that only the federal government has that authority.

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Last month, a three-judge panel on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the Justice Department and against Brewer, who signed SB 1070 into law last year.

Brewer said her legal team decided to appeal the case directly to the Supreme Court, rather than ask the 9th Circuit to revisit the issue, because "there is greater likelihood that legal questions surrounding SB 1070 will be resolved quickly so that the law can begin to do its job."

U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton temporarily blocked the law's most contested parts last July, a day before they were scheduled to go into effect. Those provisions included the requirement that local police officers should check a person's immigration status while enforcing other laws.

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Brewer said at the time that the decision harms the "safety and well-being of Arizonans," but the appeals court ruling upheld Bolton's ruling in April.

The legislation has a variety of supporters and detractors.

Republican lawmakers, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and other state governments were among those filing briefs with the appeals court supporting the state. The Mexican government, the Anti-Defamation League, the American Immigration Lawyers Association and the city of Tucson, Arizona, were among those filing briefs supporting the Justice Department's side.

In its lawsuit, the Justice Department challenged only six of the Arizona law's provisions, meaning others went into effect in July.

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Among the provisions given the go-ahead were a ban on "sanctuary cities," or municipalities with laws or policies that render them relatively safe for undocumented immigrants. Bolton's ruling also allowed a provision making it illegal to hire day laborers if doing so impedes traffic. And her order allowed parts of the law dealing with sanctions for employers who hire illegal immigrants to take effect.

The appellate court sided with the Justice Department largely on the argument that federal immigration policy -- as well as America's standing in the world -- would be greatly undermined if individual states adopted their own separate immigration laws. Doing so, the ruling contends, essentially means a given state is adopting its own foreign policy, one that may be in opposition to national policy.

"That 50 individual states or one individual state should have a foreign policy is absurdity too gross to be entertained. In matters affecting the intercourse of the federal nation with other nations, the federal nation must speak with one voice," Circuit Judge John Noonan wrote in a concurring opinion.

In February, Brewer announced that Arizona had filed a countersuit against the federal government, seeking the authority to implement its own border security efforts. At that time, Homeland Security Department spokesman Matt Chandler called Arizona's court claim a "meritless" one that "does nothing to secure the border."