After Two Years, Arizona's 'Show Me Your Papers' Now In Effect

By Jude Joffe-Block
September 18, 2012

Photo courtesy state of Arizona.
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signs the SB 1070 immigration legislation into law in April 2010.

A Brief History Of SB 1070

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PHOENIX -- Law enforcement in Arizona can enforce the so-called 'show me your papers' provision of the state's contested immigration law. The provision took effect Tuesday when a federal district judge lifted an earlier preliminary injunction that had blocked it for more than two years.

Section 2(b) of SB 1070 is often called the heart of the law. It requires police, while they are enforcing other laws, to check people's immigration status if they suspect they are in the country illegally.

Governor Jan Brewer's spokesman, Matthew Benson, said the governor was "thrilled" the provision would finally take effect.

Benson said law enforcement in the state have already been notified to begin enforcing it.

"This is one more tool that our state and local law enforcement can use in working with federal authorities and combating this problem with illegal immigration," Benson said.

And he noted it isn't voluntary.

"One of the things this does is prevent any local community from having sanctuary policy that forbids their local law enforcement from enforcing SB 1070 or collaborating with federal government in enforcing immigration law," Benson said.

Federal District Judge Susan Bolton initially blocked this provision from taking effect two years ago, but in June, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled it could go forward.

In a separate challenge to SB 1070, a coalition of civil rights advocates argued Section 2(b) would lead to racial profiling and prolonged detentions, and asked Bolton to block it on different grounds than those considered by the U.S. Supreme Court. Bolton denied that request.

The coalition has already appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

"We have great concerns that police that it is going to lead to increased racial profiling and people being stopped based on their appearance," said Linton Joaquin of the National Immigration Law Center, one of the groups in the coalition challenging the law. "Until this case is finally resolved we will be continuing to litigate this issue."