What the Arizona Court Order Actually Says

There seems to be some confusion about the prelimiary injunction ordered by U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton with regard to Arizona Senate Bill 1070. Reading both the press and the blogs, there are misunderstandings, misconstructions, oversimplifications, and lots of rhetoric, especially wondering how the judge could rule this way when (they presume) the Arizona law mimics federal law. I have read the court order and this is my legal – not political – analysis:

The judge started off by explaning which provisions of the statute are being enjoined from enforcement and which are not. Almost all of the statute stands and is enforceable pending trial on the merits. Four narrow provisions are temporarily enjoined. She concludes this section by stating the legal basis of the injunction, viz., that the moving party is likely to succeed on the merits with regard to those provisions when the case is tried and the moving party would suffer irreparable harm if the court does not provide preliminary relief, as well as the tests of the balance of equities and public interest. This is the same standard used in any case.

In the next section, the judge provides a good overview of federal immigration law that is worthy of reading by a lot of people here and on other blogs who seemed to be confused by it. There is a good overview of the relevant portions of SB 1070.

The judge then gives a good explanation of why she cannot and will not enjoin all of SB 1070 as the Government moved.

Addressing each provision, she starts with Section 2(B), which does not mimic any federal law, but says that if someone who is stopped, detained, or arrested is suspected of being an unauthorized alien they have to have their immigration status determined before they are released. This places a substantial burden on both citizens and lawful aliens (citing Hines v. Davidowitz), as well as a burden on federal resources (citing Buckman Co. v. Plaintiffs’ Legal Comm.) forcing reallocation of resources from higher priorities directly related to national security. The judge then footnoted the possible 4th Amendment issues, but did not use them as the basis of her ruling.

With regard to Section 3, this also does not mimic federal law, but rather creates a separate state offense with state penalties for violating a federal law. This runs contrary to Hines in several ways as clearly set out. Not really a shocker. Preemption is pretty obvious and success at trial very likely.

With regard to their Section 4 challenge, the Government is not likely to succeed, because they are seeking to enjoin a section of the statute that was amended by Section 4 of SB 1070 but not the actual change brought about by Section 4. No injunction.

The injunction with regard to Section 5 involves the portion that criminalizes unauthorized aliens who attempt to get work or actually work. Again, this does not mimic federal law. Congress specifically did not impose criminal or civil penalties on employees when it chose to do so on employers. The judge ruled that because the Arizona statute conflicts with a comprehensive federal scheme, it is preempted.

The Government attempted two further injunctions with regard to Section 5 but did not succeed.

Section 6 of SB 1070 does not mimic federal law and provides that an officer may arrest a person without a warrant if the officer has probable cause to believe that “the person to be arrested has committed any public offense that makes the person removable from the United States.” This would include any offense that might have been committed at any time outside of Arizona. The judge cites Justice Alito in Padilla v. Kentucky:

providing advice on whether a conviction for a particular offense will make an alien removable is often quite complex. “Most crimes affecting immigration status are not specifically mentioned by the [Immigration and Nationality Act (INA)], but instead fall under a broad category of crimes such as crimes involving moral turpitude or aggravated felonies.” M. Garcia & L. Eig, CRS Report for Congress, Immigration Consequences of Criminal Activity (Sept. 20, 2006) (summary) (emphasis in original). As has been widely acknowledged, determining whether a particular crime is an “aggravated felony” or a “crime involving moral turpitude [(CIMT)]” is not an easy task.

As a result or this and the fact that it would also require Arizona officers to make judgments with regard to non-Arizona statutes, Judge Bolton ruled:

Considering the substantial complexity in determining whether a particular public offense makes an alien removable from the United States and the fact that this determination is ultimately made by federal judges, there is a substantial likelihood that officers will wrongfully arrest legal resident aliens under the new A.R.S. § 13-3883(A)(5). By enforcing this statute, Arizona would impose a “distinct, unusual and extraordinary” burden on legal resident aliens that only the federal government has the authority to impose. Hines, 312 U.S. at 65-66.

The judge concluded her order with a detailed explanation of how the provisions she enjoined meet the standards for injunctive relief. This is set out in a clear and reasonable way.

Judge Bolton’s ruling may not be popular, especially in Arizona. That is part of the separation of powers. It is not a judge’s job to do the popular thing. That is why federal judges are not elected. The rule of law and the current will of the people may not be the same thing.  Judge Bolton did not rule in any activist way. She did not bend to the will of the Obama Administration.

If you wish to substantively disagree with my legal analysis, or make other substantive comments, feel free to do so.

The Fine Print

There are so many things that can be written (and mostly not read) about new Arizona law or about the issue of illegal immigration. As this resolution from the National Association of Evangelicals (followed up by this ad in Roll Call) shows, I can be encouraged that I am not the only conservative who will admit that something needs to be done other than shipping them across the border, Do Not Pass Go, and above all else Do Not Collect $200.

Before addressing the fine points of the Arizona legislation, let’s look at the big picture. A good friend of mine is an immigration lawyer and for those who vet  sources by ideology or theology, he is conservative both politically and theologically. In a recent email (and with permission to reprint) he said:

Regarding the ~12 million people here illegally now.  I am pretty brutally pragmatic about this.  I move right beyond the moral issues about whether we should grant amnesty to the practical conclusion that we have no choice.  We simply cannot deport all these people.  We cannot just send ICE buses into neighborhoods, round up 12 million people (the population of a pretty good-sized state) and drive them to the border.  Under the Due Process Clause, every person allegedly in the US illegally gets a hearing before an immigration judge in immigration court before they are deported.  You will need to confirm the numbers, but I think our entire immigration court system can process about 300,000 to 350,000 people a year.  At that rate, it would take about 35 or 40 years to deport the 12 million people here now, assuming no more came in.

So the Arizona legislation won’t work. It will work even less if other states take up the same legislation. The essence of the Arizona bill is nothing more than NIMBY- Not In My Back Yard. (From section 1: The legislature declares that the intent of this act is to make attrition through enforcement the public policy of all state and local government agencies in Arizona.) But if the federal court system can’t handle the numbers (that’s after all the added work for the Arizona court system) they have no choice but to release everyone that Arizona rounds up. As many of these people who are able will probably move out of Arizona to avoid having to go through that again, so Arizona’s loss will be the gain of another state. So if you are in a state other than Arizona, the Grand Canyon State wants her problems to be yours.

So how is this attrition of illegals in Arizona supposed to be accomplished? Here’s the rest of section 1: The provisions of  this act are intended to work together to discourage and deter the unlawful entry and presence of aliens and economic activity by persons unlawfully present in the United States. More specifically in section 5: IT IS UNLAWFUL FOR A PERSON WHO IS UNLAWFULLY PRESENT IN THE UNITED STATES AND WHO IS AN UNAUTHORIZED ALIEN TO KNOWINGLY APPLY FOR WORK, SOLICIT WORK IN A PUBLIC PLACE OR PERFORM WORK AS AN EMPLOYEE OR INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR IN THIS STATE. (I’m not shouting – it’s all caps in the original.)

Simple enough. We don’t let them work. If they have no money, they’ll have to go on welfare. Oh, except that Arizona passed HB 2008 last year [codified as ARS §§1-501(E) and =502(E)]  that not only denied benefits to illegals, but makes it a crime punishable by four months in prison for an government worker who does not report to immigration authorities any illegal immigrant who requests benefits even if they are requesting them for a citizen child entitled to them, even if they discover the information in casual conversation. According to the the opinion of the Arizona Attorney General, this includes emergency health care, emergency disaster relief, and immunization.

All the better, you say. If ICE won’t do the job, Arizona will. The message: no work, no welfare or healthcare (even for citizen children of illegals), no problem. You have to leave Arizona or starve. Or get diseases from which everyone else gets immunized. A little polio or tuberculosis or rubella will teach you. Get back over the border. Duck if you hear any gunfire. But that’s where you were born and that’s what you deserve. You might not be one of the next 20,000 killed.  And if you just won’t leave this wonderful country that loves legal immigrants who are from eligible countries of origin and have paid lots of money and suffered through years of red tape, at least go to California or New Mexico or Indiana or Texas (Hoosiers and Texans will be glad that you probably won’t get that far).

I’ve only touched on a tiny part of the new Arizona law. Every section, sub-section and clause deserves to be examined closely. For example, section 3 makes it a crime in be anywhere in Arizona without proper federal immigration status, subject to (in addition to the provision of federal law) six months in an Arizona jail and a $2500 fine plus:

C. A PERSON WHO IS SENTENCED PURSUANT TO THIS SECTION IS NOT ELIGIBLE FOR SUSPENSION OR COMMUTATION OF SENTENCE OR RELEASE ON ANY BASIS UNTIL THE SENTENCE IMPOSED IS SERVED.
D. IN ADDITION TO ANY OTHER PENALTY PRESCRIBED BY LAW, THE COURT SHALL ORDER THE PERSON TO PAY JAIL COSTS AND AN ADDITIONAL ASSESSMENT IN THE FOLLOWING AMOUNTS:
1. AT LEAST FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS FOR A FIRST VIOLATION.
2. TWICE THE AMOUNT SPECIFIED IN PARAGRAPH 1 OF THIS SUBSECTION IF THE PERSON WAS PREVIOUSLY SUBJECT TO AN ASSESSMENT PURSUANT TO THIS SUBSECTION.

That’s right, unlike a citizen, an illegal does not get equal protection under the law (yeah, yeah, big constitutional problem here that those pesky liberals are gonna go and bring up) plus (and remember, this is someone not allowed to make any money) they shall be ordered to pay jail costs plus $500, unless the ICE has previously let them go in which case it is an additional $1000. And if it is second offense or subsequent offense of being in Arizona, it becomes a class 4 felony, punishable by 3 years in prison and a fine of up to $150,000 (no, that’s not a typo), plus jail costs, plus the $1000.

And remember, 3 years means 3 years. No suspended time, no good time, nothing that a citizen can expect. And let’s be honest. This will be at the cost to the Arizona taxpayer (even in a Joe Arpaio tent city with rancid bologna sandwiches and that constant 115F sunshine), because you can demand all those fines and costs but if someone not only doesn’t have the money but is also forbidden to earn the money, there’s not going to be any money.

Don’t forget that HB2008 and SB1070 are specifically designed to catch parents of children with legal or illegal status. Some one’s gonna have to take care of them. To change the lyrics of the traditional song just a bit, “Motherless children have hard time when their mother is Arizona prison for three years.”

I’ve only touched on a tiny bit of SB1070. There’s plenty more. Given my inability to shut up about this (despite the being explicitly asked to do so in one instance), I will probably go and dredge it up. If we just want people to obey the law, it can’t hurt to examine it closely, can it?