By ALIA BEARD RAU
The Arizona Republic
PHOENIX -- The Supreme Court on Monday ruled that one key part of the Arizona immigration law known as Senate Bill 1070, is constitutional, paving the way for it to go into effect. The court ruled that the other three parts are unconstitutional.
The court upheld the portion of the law that requires an officer to make a reasonable attempt to determine the immigration status of a person stopped, detained or arrested if there's reasonable suspicion that person is in the country illegally.
The ruling, which comes little more than a week after President Barack Obama's administration modified its immigration-enforcement policy, is the culmination of a two-year battle.
The Arizona Legislature passed the measure and Gov. Jan Brewer signed it into law in 2010, setting off an international political firestorm.
In the days prior to the law's passage and the weeks after its signing, hundreds of supporters and opponents rallied at the state Capitol.
Opponents called for a boycott of Arizona that resulted in canceled conferences and music concerts.
Supporters sent Brewer hundreds of thousands of dollars to help fund the law's legal defense.
At one point, the governor and President Barack Obama sat down for an Oval Office chat to discuss their differences on immigration and border security. The two were not able to reach agreement, however, and their relationship has been frosty since.
The federal government eventually sued Arizona over the immigration law.
Brewer has criticized Obama's new immigration policy as a pre-emptive strike against Arizona's law. The policy, announced June 15, allows certain illegal immigrants under age 30 to apply to stay in the United States without fear of deportation for two years. They also could apply for a work permit. The policy, which mirrors portions of the Dream Act, does not grant legal status to undocumented immigrants.
Legal experts say the policy protects qualifying individuals who may be arrested or detained under Arizona's law by making it clear that federal officials will not pursue deportation.
Lawmakers in dozens of other states proposed -- and in five states passed -- copycat immigration enforcement legislation.
Now, the court's decision is expected to reignite passions over immigration and affect political contests from coast to coast, from the presidential race down to local legislative districts.
The U.S. Department of Justice lawsuit is one of seven challenging Senate Bill 1070. filed one of seven lawsuits challenging SB 1070.
U.S. District Court Judge Susan Bolton issued a preliminary injunction in that case, preventing four parts of the law from ever going into effect. The 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals upheld her ruling and Brewer appealed the injunction to the high court.
The law, among other things, makes it a state crime to be in the country illegally and requires an officer engaged in a lawful stop, detention or arrest to, when practicable, ask about a person's legal status when reasonable suspicion exists that the person is in the U.S. illegally. It's written goal is to deter the unlawful entry and presence of illegal immigrants in Arizona through a policy of "attrition through enforcement."
Bolton ruled that immigration is the responsibility of the federal government, not individual states. As part of the U.S. Department of Justice lawsuit, she issued an injunction stopping four parts of the law: requiring a law-enforcement officer to check a person's immigration status in certain situations; making it a crime to not carry "alien-registration papers;" allowing for a warrantless arrest if there is cause to believe a person committed a crime that makes him or her removable from the U.S.; and making it a crime for illegal immigrants to work.
The key argument before the Supreme Court in April was whether Arizona has the right to enforce federal immigration laws the way it chooses.
The U.S. Department of Justice in its lawsuit argued that immigration is an issue that only the federal government can address. The state argued that SB 1070 mirrors federal law and assists the federal government in enforcement.
The Supreme Court ruling determines the future of immigration enforcement nationwide and affects laws in Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, South Carolina and Utah.
But it's not the end of the lawsuits in Arizona.
The underlying lawsuit the federal government filed challenging the law, as well two other lawsuits filed against the measure, are all still awaiting trial before Bolton. Bolton will have to base future decisions in those cases on this ruling.
The high court's decision does not directly affect a separate injunction Bolton issued in one of the other lawsuits. That injunction halted the part of the law limiting day-labor activities.
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