By JACQUES BILLEAUD
PHOENIX (AP) – A civil rights coalition asked a federal appeals court Friday to prevent the most contentious part of Arizona’s immigration law from taking effect while they appeal a ruling that sunk their earlier bid to bar police from enforcing the provision.
The opponents asked the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco for an order preventing police from enforcing a requirement that officers, while enforcing other laws, question the immigration status of those they suspect are in the country illegally.
Police have been barred from enforcing the questioning requirement, dubbed by critics as the “show me your papers” provision, since July 2010. But a U.S. Supreme Court decision in June upheld the provision and cleared the way for officers to enforce it.
The coalition responded to the Supreme Court decision by asking a federal judge in Phoenix to bar enforcement of the requirement on the grounds that Latinos in Arizona would face systematic racial profiling and unreasonably long detentions.
Last week, U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton denied the request and asked lawyers on both sides of the case to give input into how the Supreme Court’s ruling should be carried out and when police can start enforcing the provision.
However, it’s still not known exactly when Bolton will say when officers can start to enforce the requirement.
The coalition also asked Bolton on Thursday to hold off on letting the provision from taking effect while they appealed her ruling. Bolton hasn’t yet ruled on that request.
In a 44-page emergency motion filed Friday with the 9th Circuit, the civil rights coalition said “plaintiffs and others similarly situated face imminent and irreparable harm in the absence of an injunction.”
The coalition also noted that the provision “has been enjoined for more than two years and has never been in effect” so “defendants face minimal, if any, harm from an additional injunction pending appeal.”
“This additional legal action is unfortunate but entirely predictable, given that the groups aligned against SB 1070 are determined to do whatever possible to keep this duly-enacted and publicly-supported law from taking effect,” Matthew Benson, a spokesman for Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, said in a statement.
Brewer’s office previously urged Bolton to let the requirement go into effect, saying the law’s opponents were merely speculating in their racial profiling claims.
The Republican governor’s office has also said police have received training to avoid discriminatory practices and that officers must have reasonable suspicion that a person is in the country illegally to trigger the requirement.
Arizona’s immigration law, known as SB1070, was passed in 2010 amid voter frustration with the state’s role as the busiest illegal entry point into the country.
Among the groups in the coalition seeking the injunction are the American Civil Liberties Union, National Immigration Law Center, Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, National Day Labor Organizing Network and Asian American Justice Center.
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