A federal judge has issued an injunction that bars some of the most controversial aspects of Arizona's immigration law from taking effect. The ruling preserves parts of the law, however. The law, challenged by the Obama administration, has been described by Cardinal Roger Mahony as "retrogressive, mean-spirited and useless."Arizona is likely to appeal the ruling, which relies heavily on the 1941 Supreme Court case Hines v. Davidowitz. That case struck down a state alien-registration law. Judge Susan Bolton quoted a passage from the Hines ruling that declared Congress had manifested a purpose to [regulate immigration] in such a way as to protect the personal liberties of law-abiding aliens through one uniform national . . . system and to leave them free from the possibility of inquisitorial practices and police surveillance.One interesting point in the ruling is that the judge essentially found that the Arizona law would interfere with national security because of an unfunded mandate it contains. The statute would require Arizona authorities to determine the immigration status of every person arrested, which would lead them to swamp the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Law Enforcement Support Center with requests it is bound by federal law to answer. According to federal officials, an overload of requests from Arizona would make it more difficult to respond to national-security-sensitive requests from the FBI and other agencies.
Paul Moses, a contributing writer at Commonweal, is the author of The Saint and the Sultan: The Crusades, Islam and Francis of Assisi's Mission of Peace (Doubleday, 2009) and An Unlikely Union: The Love-Hate Story of New York's Irish and Italians (NYU Press, 2015). Follow him on Twitter @PaulBMoses.