Guest Blog by Scott Blaney

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has dealt a blow to Arizona’s controversial Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act (S.B. 1070) on April 11, affirming a lower court’s decision to block key portions of the immigration law from taking effect. The Act requires law enforcement officials to attempt to determine the immigration status of any person that they believe to be an alien unlawfully present in the United States. The U.S. Department of Justice challenged S.B. 1070 in federal district court in Phoenix, arguing that the authority of the federal government to regulate immigration preempted Arizona’s attempt at curbing illegal immigration.

Of the Act’s mandates aimed at deterring the unlawful entry and presence of illegal immigrants in Arizona, a federal district court in Phoenix blocked four of the most controversial as unconstitutional: (1) the portion of the law that requires an officer to attempt to determine the immigration status of a person stopped, detained or arrested upon reasonable suspicion of unlawful presence; (2) the portion that makes failure to apply for or carry alien registration documents a criminal act; (3) the portion that allows a warrantless arrest of a person where there is probable cause to believe the individual committed an offense that makes him or her removable from the U.S.; and (4) the portion that makes application for or performance of work by illegal immigrants a criminal act. The Ninth Circuit agreed with the lower court.

Other portions of the law, however, have been permitted to stand, including: (1) a mandate that local law enforcement officers enforce federal immigration laws; (2) the portion that makes the transport or harboring of an illegal immigrant a criminal act; and (3) the portion that makes the picking up of a day laborer in a roadway a criminal act if it impedes traffic.

Proponents of the law, including Arizona Governor Jan Brewer and state Attorney General Tom Horne, have vowed to appeal the ruling.