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What Does the Arizona Ruling Mean for Copy-Cat States?

A pared-down version of Arizona’s SB 1070 immigration law went into effect today, less than 24 hours after a federal judge blocked its toughest provisions. Still, the law is popular — 55 percent of Americans support it, according to a recent poll — and numerous bills with similar aims have sprung up around the country.

Now that the Justice Department has shown that it will fight — and triumph over — states that try taking the lead on immigration, the Associated Press runs down what the judge’s ruling means for copy-cat states:

Lawmakers or candidates in as many as 18 states say they want to push similar measures when their legislative sessions start up again in 2011. Some lawmakers pushing the legislation said they would not be daunted by the ruling and plan to push ahead in response to what they believe is a scourge that needs to be tackled. [...]

In the meantime, other states like Utah will likely take up similar laws, possibly redesigned to get around Bolton’s objections.

“The ruling … should not be a reason for Utah to not move forward,” said Utah state Rep. Carl Wimmer, a Republican from Herriman City, who said he plans to co-sponsor a bill similar to Arizona’s next year and wasn’t surprised it was blocked. “For too long the states have cowered in the corner because of one ruling by one federal judge.”

Other state and local lawmakers have also said they plan to continue pushing Arizona-like legislation. In Tennessee, state senators told The Tennessean they will introduce legislation similar to SB 1070 when the legislature returns in January, while the South Carolina GOP vowed in a statement that the SB 1070 ruling would not deter them from creating a state immigration law.

If the SB 1070 ruling isn’t a deterrent, the high cost of lawsuits might be. On Tuesday — before the SB 1070 ruling — litigation from civil rights groups pushed a Nebraska city to suspend its tough immigration law.

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