The Fight Against Arizona's Immigration Law

Could it be repealed, blocked, or challenged in court?

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When the Arizona legislature passed one of the most restrictive and sweeping anti-immigration bills in the country last week, it sparked a national backlash. Now opponents of the law, which they say will legalize harassment and discrimination of Latinos, are looking at how to roll it back. Every avenue, from a court challenge to fighting within the Arizona political system, is being explored. Here are the possibilities.

  • AZ Congressman: Obama Should Fight It  Democratic Rep. Raul Grijalva called for the White House to push back against the law. In a speech at the state Capitol in Phoenix, alongside civil rights activists, Grijalva said, "We're going to overturn this unjust and racist law, and then we're going to overturn the power structure that created this unjust, racist law." The Department of Justice is already looking into the issue at the White House's request.
  • Federal Immigration Law Preempts State Law  Time's Nathan Thornburgh notes, "President Obama ... ordered the Justice Department to look into the legislation. Some experts say that under Article 1 of the Constitution, only Congress has the right to set immigration law. There is a good reason for that, say opponents of the bill: Even if Arizona is successful in its crackdown, illegal traffic will just move to other border states, moving the burden elsewhere without solving the national problem."
  • Want Change? Look to Governor's Mansion  Northwestern law professor Victoria DeFrancesco writes in Politico, "My home state of Arizona is NOT a 'wingnut paradise' rather Arizona is a state that does NOT have a balance of power check. It is no coincidence that extremism set in when Democratic Governor Janet Napolitano stepped down to join the President's administration." Napolitano was able to keep the conservative legislature in check. A new, equally moderate governor must take the capitol to return the balance.
  • 'Doomed' in Federal Court  Politics Daily's Andrew Cohen predicts, "in a few weeks, or maybe even a few days, the effect of the state law is likely to be stayed by the federal courts. And then the debate will go back to where it belongs, onto Capitol Hill and away from the courts, at least for the time being."
  • Why It's Unconstitutional  Salon's James Doty explains why "there is a high probability that its most controversial provision will be struck down before the law goes into effect." That provision requires police to check the identity and immigration paperwork of anyone who could possibly be an illegal immigrant. "For one thing, the Constitution's equal protection clause forbids the government from differentiating between anyone in the United States -- including illegal aliens -- on the basis of race. The new law, on its face, doesn't make racial distinctions, but its supporters haven't articulated any other grounds for suspecting that someone is an unlawful resident. It is, therefore, vulnerable to the argument that it essentially criminalizes walking while Hispanic."
  • Federal Funding for Borders Would Stem Fears  Writing in Politico, Victoria DeFrancesco notes that California and Texas get the bulk of federal border control funding, leaving Arizona with much of the traffic and little ability to control it. "The federal government has not only failed to provide a comprehensive plan for immigration but it has laid the brunt of the issue on the state of Arizona." That's why the state fights back, sometimes misguidedly, with strict anti-immigration measures.
  • Boycotting Arizona  A handful of groups and leaders have called for boycotts of Arizona commerce in protest of the bill. Rep. Grijalva called for companies to avoid the state's highly lucrative industry of convention centers and resorts. A New Mexico-based immigration group has called for a boycott of all Arizona businesses. And a group of truckers has announced they will no longer haul goods in or out of the state.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.