The New York Times reports:
A federal judge, ruling on a clash between the federal government and a state over immigration policy, has blocked the most controversial parts of Arizona’s immigration enforcement law from going into effect.
In a ruling on a law that has rocked politics coast to coast and thrown a spotlight on the border state’s fierce debate over immigration, United States District Court Judge Susan Bolton in Phoenix said some aspects of the law can go into effect as scheduled on Thursday.
But Judge Bolton took aim at the parts of the law that have generated the most controversy, blocking sections that called for officers to check a person’s immigration status while enforcing other laws and that required immigrants to carry their papers at all times. Judge Bolton put those sections on hold while she continues to hear the larger issues in the challenges to the law.
“Preserving the status quo through a preliminary injunction is less harmful than allowing state laws that are likely preempted by federal law to be enforced,” she said.
“There is a substantial likelihood that officers will wrongfully arrest legal resident aliens,” she wrote. “By enforcing this statute, Arizona would impose a ‘distinct, unusual and extraordinary’ burden on legal resident aliens that only the federal government has the authority to impose.”
The judge’s decision, which came as demonstrators opposed and supporting the law gathered here and after three hearings in the past two weeks in which she peppered lawyers on both sides with skeptical questions, seemed unlikely to quell the debate.