ACLU lawsuits force localities to back off tough immigration laws

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Two of the summer’s most controversial local immigration laws have just been rendered almost useless because of the threat of impending lawsuits.

Earlier today, a federal judge in Arizona ruled to block some key measures in the state’s immigration law. While the overall law will still go into effect at the scheduled time — Thursday at 12:01 a.m. — the portion that requires police officers to check a person’s immigration status while enforcing other laws has been put on hold.

According to the ruling, the judge found that the legal challenge by the Obama administration that certain parts of the law are unconstitutional is likely to be upheld in court.

U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton also ruled to temporarily ban sections that require immigrants to carry documents at all times and that criminalize illegal immigrants looking for work in public places. The ban will be in place until the courts can determine the legality of the law, while wading through litigation.

“This fight is far from over,” said Arizona Governor Jan Brewer in a press release. “In fact, it is just the beginning, and at the end of what is certain to be a long legal struggle, Arizona will prevail in its right to protect our citizens.”

Brewer continued: “I will battle all the way to the Supreme Court, if necessary, for the right to protect the citizens of Arizona. Meanwhile, I also know we still have work to do in confronting the fear-mongers, those dealing in hate and lies and economic boycotts that seek to do Arizona harm. “

In a related story, the city council in Fremont, Nebraska voted Tuesday night to suspend an immigration law that they passed last month in the face of legal pressure from interest groups opposing the law.

Last month, the Fremont city council made headlines for passing an immigration law similar to Arizona’s. Like Arizona, Fremont faced lawsuit threats from organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Mexican American Legal Defense & Educational Fund (MALDEF). While at the time the Fremont City Council promised to enforce the voter-supported bill, they are now backing down, at least temporarily, in the face of legal challenges.

“We voted to suspend the law because the ACLU and MALDEF had filed an injunction that was to go into place tomorrow,” Fremont City Council member Sean Gitt told The Daily Caller. “We wanted to give our legal counsel time to deal with that.”

However, the suspension is only temporary, according to Gitt. If the law is not struck down in court, it will go into effect as soon as the legal battles are over, Gitt said.

So is this becoming a trend? Will states and cities have to continue to back down from implementing tough immigration laws?
“The ACLU hopes it will be a trend,” Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, told TheDC.

“But I’m not aware of any city that has passed an immigration-related measure and that hasn’t been sued by the ACLU,” said Krikorian. “Their goal is intimidation. They are going to sue you until you cry ‘uncle.'”

But for advocates of cracking down on illegal immigration, Krikorian says there is still reason to hope. “This is just the end of the beginning,” he said. “This is just the next step in a long slog through the courts that is likely to end in the Supreme Court later on down the road.”

The state government in Arizona has promised to file an expedited appeal at the U.S. Court of Appeals in the 9th Circuit.