PHOENIX - Foes of Arizona's tough new immigration law will get their first chance today to try to block its enforcement.
U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton will hear arguments by attorneys for Phoenix police Officer David Salgado, who wants her to put the law on "hold" while she considers its legality.
Salgado said his rights are violated by a requirement in SB 1070 for him to ask those he has stopped about their immigration status when there is "reasonable suspicion" they are in this country illegally.
Salgado said another section of the law puts him at risk of being sued if he doesn't enforce the law "to the fullest extent permitted by federal immigration law." Salgado said he does not intend to question those he has stopped because he believes he does not have the legal authority.
On a related front, two more Latin American countries filed their own objections Tuesday to Arizona's new immigration law. Argentina and Ecuador have filed briefs in connection with the challenge brought by attorneys for three civil-rights organizations. Mexico previously filed to intervene in the case.
Today's hearing comes a week before Bolton hears two other requests to keep the law from taking effect as scheduled on July 29 - the one filed by the three civil-rights groups and one by the U.S. Department of Justice.
The briefs filed by Mexico, Argentina and Ecuador are part of a list of state, national and international interests wanting a say in the cases, including:
• Michigan and eight other states, along with the Northern Mariana Islands, have submitted a brief in support of SB 1070. Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox said Arizona represents "a lot of states," emphasizing that it was only Monday that he asked other state attorneys general to join him.
• The Tohono O'odham Nation filed in opposition to the law. Jonathan Jantzen, the nation's attorney general, said tribal members are "likely to be the victims of civil rights violations" by state law enforcement officers who are not properly trained in immigration laws. The tribe's reservation shares 75 miles of its border with Mexico.
• Sen. Russell Pearce, R-Mesa, who crafted the measure, filed a motion along with others saying that, even if some provisions are unconstitutional, which he does not concede, Judge Bolton should not invalidate the entire statute.
• The Arizona Attorneys for Criminal Justice, an organization of lawyers who represent criminal defendants, said SB 1070 is unconstitutional because it effectively makes it a crime for people who are stopped to refuse to answer police questions and produce identification. "Mere inability to prove one's lawful presence cannot rise to the level of reasonable suspicion to believe the person is in the country illegally."
• American Unity Legal Defense Fund, a national group that intervenes in immigration cases, said states can target illegal immigration, even if their actions go beyond federal law, as long as they are "consistent with the objectives Congress established," and Congress has not pre-empted the kind of things in SB 1070.
The Department of Justice challenge is based on the argument that SB 1070 impermissibly interferes with the exclusive right of the federal government to regulate immigration.
Officer Salgado's legal objections are more focused on how they will affect him personally. His lawyers say only police with specialized federal training can enforce federal immigration law - training Salgado does not have.
"If he refuses to enforce the act, he can be disciplined by his employer or subjected to costly private enforcement actions under the act," the lawsuit says. "Conversely, if he enforces the act, he can be subjected to costly civil actions alleging the deprivation of civil rights of the individual against whom he enforces the act."
Attorneys for Gov. Jan Brewer said simply inquiring of individuals about their immigration status can't violate someone's rights. They pointed out that SB 1070 requires someone to have been stopped, detained or arrested for some other reason before that inquiry can take place.
Legal papers filed by Luis Gallegos, the ambassador to the United States from Ecuador, said, "Similar to Mexico, Ecuador has a substantial and compelling interest in ensuring that its bilateral diplomatic relations with the government of the United States of America are transparent, consistent and reliable, and not frustrated by the actions of individual U.S. states."
He wrote SB 1070 "raises substantial challenges'' to relations between the two countries, as well as raising grave concerns the law will lead to racial profiling and disparate treatment of citizens of Ecuador who are in the U.S. legally.
A virtually identical brief was filed Tuesday by José Perez Gabilondo, chargé d'affaires in Washington for Argentina.
Brewer said that both diplomats are wrong, both on the issue of racial profiling and the question of Arizona's interfering with international relations. She said both objections ignore the issues and problems of illegal immigration.
"The bottom line is America and Arizona live by laws," she said. Brewer said SB 1070 mirrors federal immigration laws, giving state and local police tools to enforce them.
"We will continue to live by those laws," she said.
On StarNet: Find extensive coverage of immigration issues at azstarnet.com/news/local/border
The Associated Press contributed to this story.