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Judge upholds 'papers' provision in Arizona immigration law

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 1:05 PM EDT, Thu September 6, 2012
A border fence in Arizona.
A border fence in Arizona.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: The ACLU says it is prepared to document racial profiling
  • Law says officers can check immigration status in course of other investigations
  • A U.S. district judge cites the Supreme Court's June decision
  • Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer praises the ruling

(CNN) -- A federal judge on Wednesday denied a request to block the "show me your papers" provision in Arizona's immigration law, bringing officials one step closer to enforcing one of the most controversial parts of the 2010 measure.

Opponents had argued that new evidence of racial discrimination showed that the judge should block the provision, which allows local law enforcement, when performing other state law enforcement functions, to check on the immigration status of those people they stop for another reason.

But U.S. District Judge Susan R. Bolton ruled that the court could not block the provision based on the possibility of racial profiling. She cited the U.S. Supreme Court's June decision that upheld that part of the law.

"Without a set of as-applied facts, the Supreme Court has held that it would be speculative to decide as a matter of law that (the provision) will be enforced in an unconstitutional manner," she wrote.

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Bolton was the same judge who originally blocked the provision in a July 2010 ruling that was praised by immigrant advocates and decried by those who supported the measure. The Supreme Court reversed her ruling on that part of the law nearly two years later.

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In a separate order Wednesday, Bolton indicated that her original injunction -- the last judicial roadblock stopping authorities from enforcing the "show me your papers" provision -- could be lifted within days.

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer praised Wednesday's ruling.

"I applaud the federal court for siding with the U.S. Supreme Court in refusing to block the most critical section of this law," she said in a statement.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which had asked Bolton to block the provision, said it was prepared to continue challenging the law by documenting racial profiling throughout the state.

"Once this 'show me your papers' provision goes into effect, racial profiling will become rampant statewide...and we intend to ramp up our reporting and litigation efforts to seek justice on behalf of the victims of police abuse," Alessandra Soler, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona, said in a statement.

But Brewer denied that accusation Wednesday.

"As I have said consistently, it is not enough that this law be enforced. It must be enforced efficiently, effectively and in harmony with the Constitution and civil rights. I have no doubt Arizona's law enforcement officers are up for the task ahead," she said.

Bolton's ruling Wednesday blocked another part of Arizona's immigration law, which created a state statute criminalizing the harboring and transport of illegal immigrants. That provision, she ruled, conflicts with federal law.

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