PHOENIX—Arizona is preparing to ask an appeals court to lift a judge’s ruling that put most of the state’s immigration law on hold in a key first-round victory for the federal government in a fight that may go to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Three people were arrested Thursday morning at the federal courthouse in Phoenix, where police had riot gear ready in case the protest got out of hand. It was not immediately clear why the people were detained.
Hundreds of protesters marched from the state Capitol at dawn, then held a prayer service at a local church before gathering in front of the federal courthouse.
Opponents also planned a sit-in at the office of Sheriff Joe Arpaio. The sheriff said if protesters were disruptive they’d be arrested, and he vowed to go ahead with a crime sweep targeting illegal immigrants.
“My deputies will arrest them and put them in pink underwear,” Arpaio said, referring to one of his odd methods of punishment for prisoners. “Count on it.”
Gov. Jan Brewer called Wednesday’s decision by U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton “a bump in the road” and vowed to appeal.
Paul Senseman, a spokesman for Brewer, said Arizona would ask the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco later Thursday to lift Bolton’s preliminary injunction and to expedite its consideration of the state’s appeal.
Bolton indicated the government has a good chance at succeeding in its argument that federal immigration law trumps state law. But the key sponsor of Arizona’s law, Republican Rep. Russell Pearce, said the judge was wrong and predicted the state would ultimately win the case.
Opponents of the law said the ruling sends a strong message to other states hoping to replicate the law.
“Surely it’s going to make states pause and consider how they’re drafting legislation and how it fits in a constitutional framework,” Dennis Burke, the U.S. attorney for Arizona, told The Associated Press
“The proponents of this went into court saying there was no question that this was constitutional, and now you have a federal judge who’s said, ‘Hold on, there’s major issues with this bill.'”
He added: “So this idea that this is going to be a blueprint for other states is seriously in doubt. The blueprint is constitutionally flawed.”
In her temporary injunction, Bolton delayed the most contentious provisions of the law, including a section that required officers to check a person’s immigration status while enforcing other laws. She also barred enforcement of parts requiring immigrants to carry their papers and banned illegal immigrants from soliciting employment in public places—a move aimed at day laborers that congregate in large numbers in parking lots across Arizona. The judge also blocked officers from making warrantless arrests of suspected illegal immigrants.
“Requiring Arizona law enforcement officials and agencies to determine the immigration status of every person who is arrested burdens lawfully present aliens because their liberty will be restricted while their status is checked,” said Bolton, a Clinton administration appointee who was assigned the seven lawsuits filed against Arizona over the law.
Other provisions that were less contentious were allowed to take effect Thursday, including a section that bars cities in Arizona from disregarding federal immigration laws.