PHOENIX – A judge in Arizona ruled Tuesday that police can immediately start enforcing the most contentious section of the state’s immigration law, marking the first time officers can carry out the so-called “show me your papers” provision.
The decision by U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton is the latest milestone in a two-year legal battle over the requirement. It culminated in a U.S. Supreme Court decision in June that upheld the provision on the grounds that it doesn’t conflict with federal law.
This section of the law requires that officers, while enforcing other laws, question the immigration status of those suspected of being in the country illegally. The “show me your papers” name comes from opponents.
Now, with the requirement finally in full effect, both sides are anxious to see the outcome.
The supporters want local police to use it vigorously, but worry federal immigration officials won’t respond to calls to come arrest people.
Federal officials said they will check people’s immigration status when officers call. But they’ll only send an agent to arrest someone if it fits with their priorities, such as catching repeat violators and those who are a threat to public safety and national security.
Meanwhile, civil rights advocates are preparing for a battle.
• They’re stepping up efforts to staff a hotline that fields questions about what people’s rights are in case officers question their immigration status.
• If a police agency plans a special immigration patrol, volunteers armed with video cameras will be sent to capture footage, said Lydia Guzman, leader of the civil rights group Respect-Respeto.
• The law’s opponents are spreading out across the state, asking police departments not to enforce the provision.