With Arizona’s controversial immigration-enforcement bill now law, the battle will shift to the courts, where opponents plan to challenge it as an unconstitutional intrusion on federal authority and a violation of civil rights, the Arizona Republic reports. Proponents defend the legislation signed Friday by Gov. Jan Brewer as legally sound. Critics say the U.S. Constitution makes it clear that the federal government alone has the responsibility to enact and enforce immigration laws. Some fear other constitutional rights will be trampled through racial profiling and that federal money will be diverted from other national priorities.
Under the tough new law, which goes into effect 90 days after the legislative session ends, it will be a state crime for undocumented immigrants to be in Arizona. It is the only state with such a law. Under Arizona’s law, local law-enforcement officers will have the authority to ask about immigration status if they have a “reasonable suspicion” that a person is undocumented. “It’s extraordinarily vulnerable to a legal challenge,” said Thomas Saenz of the Los Angeles-based Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and an attorney who in the 1990s helped overturn most of the provisions of California’s immigration-related Proposition 187