SAVE Act and CLEAR Act Can Overturn Judge Bolton's Decision on Arizona Immigration Enforcement Law

By Chris Chmielenski, Wednesday, July 28, 2010, 4:03 PM EDT - posted on NumbersUSA

Federal Judge Susan Bolton ordered an injunction today of Arizona’s immigration enforcement law, formerly known as SB1070, just hours before it’s scheduled to take effect. Supporters of immigration enforcement are angry and frustrated over the ruling, but there is hope in the halls of Congress – of all places. If Congress passed the SAVE Act and CLEAR Act, these two bills together would secure the border, mandate E-Verify nationwide, and provide local law enforcement officials with the tools to help federal officials enforce immigration laws obviating the need for SB1070.

Let’s take a look at exactly what today’s ruling by Judge Bolton actually represents. It’s an injunction – or a temporary suspension – of several provisions within Arizona’s immigration enforcement law. It’s not the final decision. After hearing both sides of the case in a lengthy civil trial, Judge Bolton could decide that the federal government did not do a satisfactory job of proving their case, thereby causing her to lift her injunction. While that’s highly unlikely, it is possible.

Judge Bolton’s decision did strike down SB1070’s most famous clause that requires local police officers to check an individual’s immigration status if they have ‘reasonable suspicion’ that the individual is in the country illegally.

The decision did not suspend provisions that prohibit sanctuary cities, require state and local cooperation with federal officials, allow its residents to sue local leaders for refusing to cooperate with federal officials, prohibit the transport of illegal aliens, and restrict solicitation of illegal alien day laborers.

Arizona’s mandatory E-Verify law that was passed several years ago is still intact, including its sanctions for businesses that knowingly hire illegal aliens. Plus, any communities that participate in the federal government’s 287(g) and Secure Communities programs can still do so, and SB1070 prevents local municipalities from outright refusing to cooperate with federal enforcement officials.

In other words, despite Judge Bolton’s ruling today, SB1070 is still a step in the right direction for Arizona.

Poll after poll shows consistent support from Americans who want an Arizona-style enforcement law passed in their own state. Today’s ruling has no impact on states that are proceeding with similar legislation. Arizona’s federal district court does not have jurisdiction over South Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and Florida, so lawmakers in those states can cautiously proceed without concern.

What now?

Today’s ruling from Judge Bolton becomes moot if Congress passes the SAVE Act and the CLEAR Act. It’s unlikely for either bill to make its way to the House floor before the end of the 111th Congress in December. But both are expected to be reintroduced next year and could move forward with enough constituent pressure.

Check your Members’ Immigration-Reduction Report Cards and see if they’ve cosponsored the SAVE Act and CLEAR Act. If they haven’t, call their office and urge them to do so. You can also look on our grid of “5 Great Immigration Reduction Bills