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U.S. Circuit Court Strikes Down Another Arizona Anti-Immigrant Law

gavel-3-1409593-m.jpgRecently the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the 9th circuit ruled that another of Arizona’s anti-immigration laws is unconstitutional. This law, referred to as Proposition 100, allowed the state to deny bond to undocumented foreign nationals who were charged with “serious” crimes.

Proposition 100

Arizona’s Proposition 100 was passed in November 2006, during a period that many have described as the height of anti-immigration and anti-immigrant public opinion in the state. What is interesting about this law is that it seems to have been incomplete at the time Arizonans voted on the bill. It was only after the vote was in and the bill was passed that the Arizona state legislature actually defined “serious” crimes. The definition classified Class 4 felonies or worse as “serious” crimes. Arizona has a sliding scale of felony classes with Class 1 being the most serious and Class 6 being the least serious.

The Lawsuit

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a lawsuit in federal court challenging the constitutionality of Arizona’s Proposition 100. The Phoenix U.S. District Court judge upheld the law. The ACLU appealed this decision to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in June, and this first appeal was denied.

However, the ACLU persevered and requested that a larger panel of more judges hear the case “en banc.” In doing so, the ACLU was able to show this judging panel that Proposition 100 is indeed unconstitutional and the judges agreed. Attorney Cecillia Wang, the director of the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project and the lawyer who argued the case before the court, called the ruling a vindication of basic American freedoms.

Arizona’s Response

A spokesman for the Arizona Sheriff’s Office has stated that they will appeal the 9th Circuit decision, and accused the court of substitutions its judgment for that of the four out of five Arizonans who voted in support of Proposition 100. The Maricopa County attorney, Mr. Bill Montgomery, argued that in the state’s experience, undocumented foreign nationals routinely do not show up for their court dates and can be significant flight risks.

Arizona’s Own Court Record

Since 2012 Arizona has seen many of its immigration-related laws struck down in the federal and U.S. Supreme courts. In 2012, the Supreme Court struck down a number of Arizona’s 2010 law that would have required foreign nationals to have “alien-registration papers” on their person, and that would have allowed for warrantless arrests if a police officer thinks a person may be removable (i.e. deportable) from the United States.
Additionally, in 2013, the 9th Circuit court struck down another part of the 2010 law which made it illegal to impede traffic while looking for day labor employment, and another section that made it illegal to transport or harbor undocumented foreign nationals.

The Rant

It is very heartening to see that the court system is committed to upholding both the U.S. Constitution and the rights of foreign nationals. Hopefully, this trend will continue and states will soon learn that they cannot enact arbitrary and discriminatory laws against immigrants. Continue to check with our blog for the most up to date immigration news.

Additional Blog Posts

What Employers Should Know About Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, ImmigRantings, November 28, 2012
New Jersey is the Newest State to Offer In-State Tuition to Undocumented Students, ImmigRantings, January 23, 2014