Harsh Arizona Immigration Law Struck Down

by Lauren Barbato

Arizona hasn't had too much luck on its strict anti-immigration laws. On Friday, a federal judge struck down Arizona's anti-immigrant smuggling law, ruling that the state overstepped its boundaries on policing illegal immigration. It's the latest Arizona immigration measure to be struck down by a federal court — signifying that maybe Arizona should take a step back when it comes to immigration reform.

According to the Associated Press, U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton threw out a 2005 smuggling law because it conflicted with the powers of the federal government. The law was part of the 2010 challenge to a batch of Arizona immigration laws by the Obama administration.

Critics of the law said it penalized the wrong people — the people who paid to be smuggled into the United States, and the not the smugglers themselves. Since the law was instated, more than 2,000 people who paid a fee to be smuggled into Arizona were charged with conspiring to smuggle themselves, the AP reports.

Much of the criticism was sparked by the actions of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who's led a ton of anti-immigration policies out of his office. Arizona's attempt to allow local police like Arpaio crack down on immigration has been in direct conflict with the federal government.

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Arizona's battles with the federal government have been ongoing for years. In 2010, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer approved the harshest anti-immigration law, SB 1070, in the nation. The legislation enabled local police to question people about their immigration status if there was suspicion to do so, and also made it a crime to be in Arizona illegally. At the time, President Barack Obama said the Arizona's law "threaten to undermine basic notions of fairness that we cherish as Americans."

Just a few months after Brewer signed the legislation, the Justice Department challenged it, claiming it conflicted with federal law and "crossed a constitutional line." U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said at the time:

Diverting federal resources away from dangerous aliens such as terrorism suspects and aliens with criminal records will impact the entire country’s safety. Setting immigration policy and enforcing immigration laws is a national responsibility. Seeking to address the issue through a patchwork of state laws will only create more problems than it solves.

In 2012, the Supreme Court struck down several provisions of SB 1070. And over the last year, more of Arizona's anti-immigration laws began to drop: A federal appeals court ruled struck down a law this summer that denied undocumented citizens driver's licenses, while an appeals court overturned a 2006 voter-approved measure that blocks bail for undocumented citizens who've been charged with a felony.

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