No Ruling on Arizona Immigration Law

July 22, 2010

Federal Judge Susan Bolton held a hearing today in the U.S. District Court in Phoenix, Arizona to decide whether to grant the U.S. Department of Justice a preliminary injunction to block the controversial Arizona immigration law. The Arizona law that has been called racist and unconstitutional is set to go into effect July 29, 2010.

About 150 observers and 30 attorneys packed the courtroom.  No ruling was issued after two hours of testimony.

On July 15th the judge heard opening arguments from the DoJ on the case.  The federal government claims that the Arizona immigration law is unconstitutional because it is preempted by federal law.

The Chicago Tribune reported that the judge was skeptical about the constitutionality of the law:
U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton noted at a hearing that the U.S. Supreme Court has long barred states from creating their own immigrant registration systems. She said the Arizona measure's stipulation that makes a crime of failing to have immigration documents may violate that.
There are six other lawsuits fighting the law as Online World Magazine summarized:
  • Frisancho v. Brewer: The first lawsuit was filed against the measure April 27 and involves a U.S. citizen from the Washington D.C. area who plans to visit Arizona. The unidentified citizen has cited due process violations of both the U.S. and Arizona constitutions.
  • Escobar v. Brewer: A Tuscon area police officer who is a naturalized citizen contends that the Arizona law is trumped by federal immigration policy, conflicts with a 1987 Supreme Court ruling, and violates the First, Fourth, Fifth, and 14th amendments of the U.S. Constitution.
  • Salgado v. Brewer: A Phoenix patrol officer teamed up with Chicanos Por La Causa, which is Arizona’s largest Hispanic community development corporation, to again say that the law violates the U.S. Constitution’s supremacy clause. The Salgado lawsuit was also heard on July 15, and the state attempted to have the suit dismissed, saying the police officer experienced no harm resulting from the law.
  • National Coalition of Latino Clergy and Christian Leaders v. State of Arizona: The two non-profit groups suing the state are connected to 30,000 churches and 300 Arizona pastors, and have stated that ramifications of the law will include “all persons who currently reside in Arizona and find themselves to be negatively affected by the proposed unconstitutional law.”
  • Friendly House v. Whiting: This suit involves a coalition of civil rights groups including the American Civil Liberties Union, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF), and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. The suit alleges that Arizona’s law attempts to regulate immigration and unlawfully punish those whom the state deems to be in violation of immigration laws. Brewer and other officials said the lawsuit should be thrown out because the groups don’t allege a real threat of harm from enforcing the new law and instead base their claims on speculation. The civil rights groups said their clients will suffer imminent harm, such as a social service organization that will have to divert resources from its programs to instead assist those affected by the new law.
  • LULAC v. Arizona: The most recent lawsuit in the case, filed on July 9, involves the League of United Latin American Citizens, which is the largest and oldest Latino civil rights group in the United States. The suit centers on guidelines in law enforcement training materials provided under the new law, that the LULAC believes will lead to racial profiling.
In the CNMI, visiting law professor, Rose C. Villazor told a gathering of guest workers and attorneys that the CNMI's Public Law 17-1 is preempted by federal law. The Marianas Variety reported:
She said CNMI labor law requiring nonresident workers with umbrella permit to report to the Department of Labor if they are hired by a new employer contradicts the preemption doctrine.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has already taken over that authority, she added.

“It’s the discretion of the USCIS to decide who can work here and on what terms,” she said.

She said because the umbrella permit was issued before the transition period, it is the federal government’s opinion that the nonresident workers should be able to continue using the umbrella permit until its expiration on Nov. 27, 2011.

Villazor said the CNMI government may report any nonresident worker who no longer has an employer to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

However, she added, the CNMI government cannot remove nonresident workers who have lost employment but have an umbrella permit.

It is DHS that will decide whether they will be removed, she added.

At the end of the transition period on Nov. 27, 2011 there’s no guarantee if nonresident workers can remain in the CNMI lawfully if their employers fail to hire them through the regular federal process, Villazor said.

Unless legislation is introduced in the U.S. Congress, Villazor said the goal of the federalization law is zero guest workers by 2014.

The forum ended after an hour and a half only due to insufficient light.


Anonymous said...

Isn't there still a provision the a sitting Gov. can request a five year extension for the guest worker program?

Wendy said...

P.L.110-229, the CNRA of 2008, is a law, so unless it is repealed, the provision states that the Secretary of Labor can request an extension in consultation with and Secretaries of Interior, DHS, Defense and CNMII governor based on the current and projected labor needs.

I would guess if a decision were to be made today regarding an extension of five years after 2014, an extension would not be considered as businesses are closing and there is no evidence that additional foreign workers would be needed. By the time any extension is requested the workers should all have CNMI-only work visas under the CNMI-only guest worker program administered by the US, other US work visas, or should have been granted US status so there would be no need for an extension.

Why would the US want to run a special guest worker program at a great expense for a longer time if it is not needed or serves no purpose? It would be far smarter to grant status to all the legal foreign workers now. Then there would be no need for a special guest worker program and the needs of the CNMI would be served as the CNMI claimed that it needed 16,000 foreign workers to fill jobs according to documents filed by Fitial and pals in the CNMI vs US anti-federalization lawsuit. Also, the needs of the foreign workers, who call the CNMI their home, would be served.

As far as in "consultation with the CNMI governor" consultation means just that. A decision for an extension would be based on facts, data, cost effectiveness and many other considerations.

Anonymous said...

"By the time any extension is requested the workers should all have CNMI-only work visas under the CNMI-only guest worker program administered by the US, other US work visas, or should have been granted US status so there would be no need for an extension."

Where pray tell do you get your information from?

You sound like a spokesperson for the Federal Government Wendy. You are not. Or are you?

Wendy said...

Anonymous 10:53

My opinion is based on the law, DHS statements, conversations with officials, and common sense. Did I ever say I was a spokesperson for the federal government? No, I did not.

Anonymous said...

"By the time any extension is requested the workers should all have CNMI-only work visas under the CNMI-only guest worker program administered by the US, other US work visas, or should have been granted US status so there would be no need for an extension."

If that CNMI-only guest worker program is to continue beyond December 31, 2014, an extension will be needed.