Arizona immigration law won't be completely blocked, federal judge indicates during gov't lawsuit

Arizona's controversial anti-illegal immigration law is here to stay, at least in some form, a federal judge said Thursday in Phoenix.

U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton, who is presiding over the federal government's lawsuit against Arizona over the legislation, said she has no intention of blocking the entire law, though she did not deliver a ruling on the closely watched case.

Bolton did, however, say parts of the 14 sections the law could be removed, the Arizona Republic reported.

Arizona's law, Senate Bill 1070, gives police the ability to question a suspect's immigration status if there is "reasonable suspicion" that the person is in the U.S. illegally.

The state's governor, Jan Brewer, signed the law in April and it is scheduled to take effect July 29.

There is no indication whether Bolton will issue a ruling before next Thursday.

In a jam-packed courthouse, Bolton pressed the Justice Department's attorney, Edwin Kneedler, to explain why the state could not enforce its own, strict laws on illegal immigration.

"Why can't Arizona be as inhospitable as they wish to people who have entered the United States illegally?" Bolton, an appointee of President Bill Clinton, asked.

The judge also spent time pointing out the realities Arizona faces on the U.S.-Mexico border.

"You can barely go a day without a location being found in Phoenix where there are numerous people being harbored," she said. "Who am I to stop the state of Arizona?"

Kneedler explained that Arizona's law would burden federal agencies with more cases than it could handle.

Critics say the law will lead to rampant racial profiling of Latinos and some police chiefs in the state worry resources and community relations will suffer if the law is enforced.

The state's attorney, John Bouma, countered that American citizens don't have an "immigration status" and therefore, shouldn't worry about the new law.

Bolton, though, questioned the "reasonable suspicion" phrase in the law, saying police did not have a clear idea how they should enforce SB 1070.

"(Police) training materials specifically acknowledge that they don't know what it means and that it will be left up to each agency to decide what that sentence means."

Bolton also heard arguments from the American Civil Liberties Union Thursday. Including the Justice Department case, there are seven lawsuits pending against Arizona.

With News Wire Services

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