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Live From San Francisco: Debate Over Arizona Immigration Law

Today’s the big day for Arizona immigration law SB 1070: The Ninth Circuit Court of appeals will hear debate over the law today, with Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) present to represent the state and supporters of the law. Brewer is asking the panel of three judges to overturn an earlier ruling on the law that temporarily blocked many of its controversial provisions, including a requirement that police check immigration status after stops for other violations.

The judges will hear arguments from the Department of Justice, which filed a suit against the law in July, and the state, with 30 minutes for each side. If you want to watch, the hearing will be broadcast on CSPAN at 9 a.m. Pacific time, noon Eastern.

At stake is whether the law will continue to operate in its limited form, where it has yet to make much impact on policing immigration in Arizona. Law enforcement officials and human rights groups said they haven’t heard of additional arrests or stops under the law, although the provisions feared to provoke racial profiling have been blocked.

A number of groups, politicians and governments have come to the support of both Arizona and the Department of Justice, with amicus briefs filed on both sides to argue the law should or shouldn’t be allowed to go into effect. On Arizona’s side are a number of state attorneys general — particularly Republicans running for governor — and Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. The Mexican government and a number of human rights organizations support the Justice Department’s attempt to block the law.

No matter which way the judges rule, it’s unlikely the battle over SB 1070 will stop there. Arizona officials, including bill author state Rep. Russell Pearce (R), have promised to take the fight to the Supreme Court, if necessary. Plus, there are a few other pending lawsuits over SB 1070: Federal Judge Susan Bolton has yet to rule on Saldago v. Brewer and has not heard or ruled on National Coalition of Latino Clergy and Christian Leaders v. State of Arizona or LULAC v. Arizona.

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