It's been a little more a month since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down most of Arizona's notoriously harsh SB 1070 immigration law. The one provision that did survive the legal test has languished in a kind of legal limbo. It requires that police conduct mandatory immigration checks of individuals who authorities stop or arrest for another law enforcement reason.
Now some groups are suggesting the provision known as "show me your papers" may finally kick in. On Wednesday, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals officially handed the case back to U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton.
But it remains unlikely that police will start the immigration checks in the near future. Why? As it turns out, though Bolton is required to lift the injunction that prevented local law enforcement from conducting the checks, she could issue another similar order in response to a new legal challenge brought last month. Civil and immigrant rights groups are suing Arizona, arguing the "show me your papers" provision will result in racial profiling and in the prolonged detention of individuals who are stopped by police and held until authorities can determine their immigration status.
And Bolton could also lift the injunction and ask the Arizona Supreme Court to weigh in and interpret how the "show me your papers" provision can be applied. That means police would probably wait until the state court defines what they are permitted to do while conducting such checks.