By David Schwartz, Reuters
PHOENIX - Arizona Governor Jan Brewer plans to fight a federal judge's ruling against a part of Arizona's tough immigration law that would have made it a crime to harbor illegal immigrants, court papers showed on Thursday.
Lawyers for the Republican governor said the state planned to lodge an appeal with the 9th U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco to remove a block placed on the measure by a lower court judge on September 5. A formal appeal has not yet been filed.
The measure, which makes it illegal to transport, shield or harbor an illegal immigration within Arizona's borders, was barred by U.S. District Court Judge Susan Bolton as part of a ruling allowing another key part of the law to go into effect.
Under the controversial "show-your-papers" provision of the law, which has been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, police statewide are now required to check the status of people they stop and suspect are in the country illegally.
Arizona's immigration law is part of an attempt to crack down on the flow of illegal immigrants streaming into the border state where an estimated 360,000 undocumented people live. Brewer signed the bill into law in April 2010, saying the federal government had failed to secure the state's border with Mexico.
Critics of the law said it could lead to racial profiling.
Brewer spokesman Matthew Benson said the governor, who has clashed repeatedly with the White House over illegal immigration, maintained that the state should be able to arrest those found to be violating the harboring provision.
"The transport and harboring of illegal aliens leaves a path of crime and violence across our state, from the human smuggling operations to the drop houses where torture and blackmail are commonplace," Benson said in a statement.
"Combating these problems, in cooperation with federal law, is well within the police powers of a state taking action to preserve the safety and well-being of its citizens."
An attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, one of the groups contesting the law, believes that the appeals court will reject the governor's appeal.
"It simply is not the state's business to criminalize everyday interactions with Arizona residents based on their immigration status," said Omar Jadwat, a senior staff attorney with the ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project. "Every court to consider this issue has gone our way."
The high-profile Arizona law was challenged by the Obama administration two years ago, saying that the U.S. Constitution gives the federal government sole authority over immigration policy.
The legal challenge made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which in June upheld the "show-your-papers" provision but struck down three others as unconstitutional.