Despite a Supreme Court ruling last summer that officially established the constitutionality of several key provisions of Arizona’s embattled anti-immigrant law SB 1070, debate continues to swirl around several elements of the law that remain in a state of legal limbo. One such piece that has yet to be enforced is a relatively minor provision making it illegal to harbor undocumented immigrants in the state of Arizona. As Ariz. Gov. Jan Brewer and others fight to get this provision finally enacted, at least one major group is committed to keeping it off the books: the Mexican government.
Immediately following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision that Arizona could begin enforcement of the most important SB 1070 provision, the requirement that state and local law enforcement officers verify the legal residency status of those encountered during routine police work, critics filed an emergency appeal in a U.S. District Court. Judge Susan Bolton refused to grant an injunction of the provision, arguing that the Supreme Court already established its legality and constitutionality. However, Bolton did grant a temporary injunction against another provision making it illegal to harbor undocumented immigrants in the state.
In September, Ariz. Gov. Jan Brewer immediately responded to the injunction with her own appeal, urging the immediate dissolution of the injunction. However, as of the beginning of 2013, the injunction stands.
This week another entity threw its hat into the legal ring surrounding this much-debated SB 1070 provision when attorneys for Mexico issued a legal filing urging the appeals court to maintain the existing injunction and keep things the way they are. According to the filing, the Mexican government argues that immigration law has been firmly established as under the sole purview of the U.S. federal government, and the state of Arizona thus has no right to pass its own such legislation. In addition, the filing argues that if the provision were to go into effect, it would pose a significant threat to bilateral relations between the two nations.
A spokesperson for Brewer quickly fired back at the attorneys representing Mexico, arguing that it is not Mexico’s business to interfere with U.S. law. Brewer’s office continues to contend that SB 1070 is not a new law, but rather it serves to mirror and enforce pre-existing federal law.
Regardless of how the appeals court ultimately rules on this issue, it is clear that nearly three years after SB 1070’s inception, the law continues to be a major source of contention between Mexico and the United States, threatening necessary and potentially productive cooperation between the two nations.