Civil rights groups shift focus on SB 1070

Civil rights groups are dropping their bid to stop police from enforcing the “papers please” provision of SB 1070, at least for the time being.

Linton Joaquin of the National Immigration Law Center said it makes little sense to spend time appealing last month’s order by U.S. District Court Judge Susan Bolton letting the law take effect. That followed a Supreme Court ruling in June saying there was no basis for her original 2010 injunction declaring the provision was preempted by federal law.

And Bolton specifically denied a request by the civil rights groups for a new preliminary injunction, this one based on claims that the law will necessarily lead to racial profiling. The groups had taken their case to the 9the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. But on Wednesday they withdrew the case.

“We’re going to be focusing on the permanent injunction,” said Victor Viramontes of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund. That means taking the time to convince Bolton that there are problems with the law rather than seeking to have it blocked temporarily while they prepare their arguments. Viramontes said that time could play in favor of the challengers.

That’s because police will now be out enforcing the section of the law which requires them to question those they have stopped about their immigration status if there is reason to believe they are in this country illegally. And that, Viramontes said, will create a “record” of situations where the law is being applied in a discriminatory fashion.

In seeking the temporary injunction, the challengers argued the law cannot be fairly enforced. They also cited statements of some of the measure’s legislative supporters which they said prove the measure was enacted for the express purpose of discriminating against Hispanics.

The American Civil Liberties Union, another of the challengers, already has set up a telephone hotline to take complaints of those who say they have been victims of discrimination.

Attorneys for the state are challenging a separate ruling by Bolton striking down a section of SB 1070 which makes it a state crime to block traffic to seek employment. The state also is appealing a more recent ruling by Bolton voiding another SB 1070 provision which makes it illegal for someone to harbor or transport someone they know is in this country illegally. The judge said that was an illegal intrusion by the state into the exclusive province of the federal government.

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