A federal appeals court ruled that key sections of Arizona's tough immigration statute are preempted by federal law and may not be enforced, handing an important victory to the Obama administration and bringing criticism from Arizona officials, the Christian Science Monitor reports. The three-judge panel said the key sections undercut a national scheme enacted by Congress and would complicate the conduct of U.S. foreign policy. The court said the finding on preemption was warranted by the “threat of 50 states layering their own immigration enforcement rules on top of [federal immigration statutes].” The law would, among other things, require police to check immigration status if they stop someone while enforcing other laws.
Monday's ruling sets the stage for an expected appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court and possible oral argument in 2012 – a presidential election year. “I believe the [ ] decision will be overturned by the United States Supreme Court, and I pledge to make every possible effort to achieve that result,” said Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne. The Arizona law touched off a heated national debate last year over immigration policies and enforcement. Bills reflecting Arizona's get-tough attitude were introduced in six states: Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island. None passed. Four other states, Georgia, Utah, Virginia, and West Virginia, passed laws beefing up identification procedures for immigrants.