The state of Arizona gained notoriety close to nine years ago when the state law enforcement officials took the federal government’s immigration laws into their own hands and set off a debate nationwide regarding the treatment of undocumented individuals in the United States. The law which was so strictly enforced is now coming to an end, with a ruling last Friday that is striking down the state’s anti-smuggling law that took effect in 2005. The smuggling law, has been highly criticized because it charged the undocumented individuals, who paid smugglers to help them enter the country unlawfully, or without inspection, with smuggling themselves! Critics have maintained that the law was intended for the paid smugglers, not the people who sought their services. This latest law that has come under attack was struck down by the Court who concluded that state law which sought to detain and prosecute undocumented individuals is at odds with the federal government’s immigration powers. Despite the general population of Arizona’s view of the state law, the state law enforcement may not and should not interfere in federal areas.
The state of Arizona has faced it problems in the past, as a very high number of undocumented individuals inhabit its borders and has been known as one of the busiest areas for illegal smuggling in the nation. This has been partly attributed to a weak border protection on the southern end of the state. United State citizen residents became impatient with the situation and vastly supported the state mandated initiative of enforcing the immigration laws. In 2010, the state of Arizona made news with an even broader agenda of enforcing the federal immigration laws. Presently, there are very few of these laws that are still binding and in effect. One of these last remaining vestiges is the law that allows local and state law enforcement to stop an individual and ask for proof of immigration status, however, this is limited to certain circumstances.
A federal judge denounced and overturned the previous state laws in Arizona that were said to employ racial profiling on a regular basis. Traffic and immigration patrols had been set up throughout the state to routinely stop Hispanic individuals based on their appearance rather than for any other known reason and place them in removal proceedings. The major change this week took place when United States District Judge Susan Bolton overruled the smuggling law in accordance with the White House’s agenda for challenging Arizona’s 2010 laws, which have been perceived as nothing short of draconian. This smuggling law was highly criticized after more than 2,000 undocumented individuals were smuggled into the United States and then faced prosecution for alien smuggling.
Republican leaders in the state of Arizona, who support the state smuggling law are outraged. They claim that the White House and the President himself, do not care about the federal immigration laws, since they the laws are not being enforced, rather the federal government is precluding the state to enforce these laws. The United States Department of Justice, however was pleased with the United States District Court’s ruling this week and see it as a positive change for the immigration climate in Arizona. The USDOJ issued a statement praising the Court and the new change in the law.