A federal judge ruled Wednesday that Arizona authorities can enforce the most contentious section of the state’s immigration law, which critics have dubbed the “show me your papers” provision.
The ruling by U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton clears the way for police to carry out the requirement that officers, while enforcing other laws, question the immigration status of those they suspect are in the country illegally.
The provision has been at the center of a two-year legal battle that resulted in a U.S. Supreme Court decision in June upholding the requirement, ruling against the Obama administration, which filed the initial challenge.
The Obama administration declared a measure of victory at the time, as the court said local police cannot detain anyone on an immigration violation unless federal immigration officials say so.
After the nation’s highest court weighed in, opponents asked Bolton to block the provision outright by arguing that it would lead to systematic racial profiling and unreasonably long detentions of Latinos if it’s enforced.
Lawyers for Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, however, urged the judge to let the requirement go into effect, saying the law’s opponents were merely speculating in their racial profiling claims. The Republican governor’s office also said police have received training to avoid discriminatory practices and that officers must have reasonable suspicion that a person is in the country illegally to trigger the requirement.