Arizona judge hears pro-con arguments on immigration law

Arizona judge hears pro-con arguments on immigration law

Supported by most Arizonans and the US population, the law goes into effect next week, raising concern it might lead to racial profiling by state police, who will be allowed to ask for immigration status while checking for any violation, such as during traffic stops.
White House lawyers argued in a packed court room that immigration policy is exclusively the government's responsibility and that state laws cannot trump federal rules or the US Constitution.

But Arizona officials said they have been overrun by illegal immigrants who fuelled a spiking crime rate and strained state resources. They said the measure was necessary only because of lax federal government enforcement of the southern US border.
American Civil Liberties Union lawyer Nina Perales said she was "very optimistic" the group's lawsuit against the Arizona law had been received favourably and would help block the law.

"What happens here today will have a tremendous impact on our entire country. But history is on our side," plaintiff Terry Leon, executive director of Friendly House, told the courtroom.

John Bouma, the attorney representing Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, said police training would prevent racial profiling.

Outside the courthouse, a few hundred demonstrators shouted their opposition to the law with bullhorns. Drumbeats were heard at times in the courtroom, making attorneys struggle to make themselves heard.

Opponents of the Arizona law have announced plans for a number of demonstrations, including acts of civil disobedience, next week if the law goes into effect.
In what appears to be the only hearing on the law before it goes into effect, Judge Susan Bolton focused on the ambiguity of its language, which she termed as "awkward," saying she was skeptical the measure could be duly enforced.
While no further hearings are planned, Bolton could issue a ruling at any time before the law is due to go into effect on July 29.

After the hearing, Brewer issued a brief statement after the hearing, saying the state made a "well-prepared presentation of the direction we want to take for our state and for the citizens of Arizona."