The poor phrasing of the central provision in SB 1070 led to it being blocked, according to the injunction issued today by U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton.
The first sentence of Section 2(B) of the law details the situations in which police officers must attempt to determine a person’s immigration status. It says that during any lawful stop, detention or arrest, if an officer has reasonable suspicion that a person is illegally in the country, the officer must make an effort to find out if the person is legally in the country.
But the next sentence says simply: “Any person who is arrested shall have the person’s immigration status determined before the person is released.”
The state of Arizona argued that the first sentence modifies the second one, meaning that only when an officer has a reasonable suspicion that an arrestee is in the country illegally must the officer determine the person’s immigration status. But Bolton said the second sentence is not qualified by the first sentence, and therefore should be read independently, meaning the immigration status of anyone who is arrested must be determined.
That, Bolton decided, unlawfully burdens legally-present foreigners, “because their liberty will be restricted while their status is checked.”
“Given the large number of people who are technically ‘arrested’ but never booked into jail or perhaps even transported to a law enforcement facility, detention time for this category of arrestee will certainly be extended during an immigration status verification,” she wrote.
It also places an undue burden on the federal government, she wrote.
However, Bolton also found that the first sentence in Section 2(B)has problems that merit injunction. That sentence places an undue burden on the federal government and on lawfully-present foreigners, she decided.
"Legal residents will certainly be swept up by this requirement, particularly when the impacts of the provisions pressuring law enforcement agencies to enforce immigration laws are considered," she wrote.