PHOENIX – Arizona authorities can enforce the most contentious section of the state’s heavily debated immigration law, according to a federal judge’s ruling Wednesday regarding a section of the statute that critics have dubbed the “show me your papers” provision.
The ruling by U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton clears the way for police to carry out the requirement that officers, while enforcing other laws, question the immigration status of those they suspect are in the country illegally.
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer hailed the ruling on what she called “the most critical section” of the state’s immigration law.
Critics have assailed the provision as un-American, saying it paves the way for ethnic discrimination and racial profiling, providing officers a justification for stopping people based on how they look.
The provision has been at the center of a two-year legal battle that resulted in a U.S. Supreme Court decision in June upholding the requirement.
After the nation’s highest court weighed in, opponents asked Bolton to block the section of the law, arguing that it would cause systematic discrimination and unreasonably long detentions of Latinos if it’s enforced.
Brewer’s office, however, urged the judge to let the requirement go into effect, saying the law’s opponents were merely speculating in their racial profiling claims.
In her ruling, Bolton said the court will not ignore the clear direction from the Supreme Court that the provision “cannot be challenged further on its face before the law takes effect.” She reiterated the high court’s interpretation that the law might be able to be challenged as unconstitutional on other grounds.