Leading up to this week’s oral arguments before a federal appellate court on whether Arizona’s controversial immigration law is constitutional, all eyes were on the Grand Canyon state.
Arizona has received millions in donations to pay for its legal defense fund of the state’s SB1070, the Wall Street Journal reported, with thousands of out-of-state donations, including one for $1.5 million.
But the three month-old law, crafted with the help of the private-prison business looking to reap hundreds of millions of dollars from detaining immigrants, according to a NPR investigation, hasn’t lived up to expectations – neither hopes nor fears.
With key provisions blocked by a U.S. district judge last summer — the basis for the state’s appeal to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals — immigrant-rights groups and the largest state police agencies say no arrests have been made, and no one has sued them for not enforcing federal immigration law to the fullest, according to the Arizona Republic.
Arizona’s controversial SB1070 law, which aims to allow police in the state to ask people for proof they are legally in the country, has split the federal government and state authorities, liberals and conservatives, and even some families.
Although Arizona politicians have criticized the federal government for not enforcing immigration law, all of the state’s counties that use biometrics, such as fingerprints, to identify people now participate in a federal program which cross-references immigration and criminal databases.
Controversial in its own right, the Secure Communities program, managed by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, has taken off from where ICE already started with another program that deputizes local police as immigration officers and has been criticized by the Homeland Security Department’s inspector general.
Speaking of the 9th circuit, one of the three judges sitting on the panel that will rule on Arizona’s law was almost wrongfully deported himself when he was a college student.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., in a fight for his political life as he seeks re-election, vowed to push after the election legislation that would put students who are illegal immigrants on a path to citizenship. He said on Spanish-language television that he would promote the bill, known as the DREAM Act, regardless of the outcome of the mid-term election.
Republicans have already signaled that they will continue to fight for tougher immigration enforcement, as seven members of the Senate Judiciary Committee sent a letter asking the Homeland Security Department how much money it would cost to deport all illegal immigrants encountered by the government, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Immigration courts – part of the Justice Department – order immigrants deported, and the backlog of cases had reached an all-time high as of Sept. 30, the end of the 2010 fiscal year.