Arizona, immigrants' attorneys to spar in court over police stops

Reuters Middle East

* District court hearing may decide Arizona law's fate

* Law partially upheld by Supreme Court

* Governor is key White House foe on immigration

PHOENIX, Aug 21 (Reuters) - A federal judge in Phoenix will

begin considering on Tuesday whether Arizona's tough "show me

your papers" immigration law can go into effect, as the state

grapples with hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants.

At the same time, District Court Judge Susan Bolton's

hearing marks a fresh bid by immigration rights advocates to

halt provisions of the Arizona law, already partially upheld by

the U.S. Supreme Court, that requires police to check the

immigration status of people they stop and suspect are in the

country illegally.

Attorneys for the ACLU and several immigration groups have

asked Judge Bolton to temporarily block the law until she can

consider fresh arguments against it that differ from those

presented to the high court.

The immigration rights advocates say the law would

discriminate against Latinos and, by having police hold people

while their immigration status is verified, would violate

constitutional protections against unreasonable search and

seizure.

"We have a good deal of evidence that the law would have a

disparate impact on Latinos and Mexicans in particular, and that

the law was enacted out of a discriminatory intent," said Linton

Joaquin, general counsel for the National Immigration Law

Center, one of the groups leading the court challenge.

Arizona Republican Governor Jan Brewer, a major White House

foe in the battle over illegal immigration, signed a broad

crackdown into law in 2010, complaining that the federal

government failed to secure the state's border with Mexico. An

estimated 360,000 illegal immigrants live in Arizona.

The Obama administration challenged that law in court,

saying the Constitution gives the federal government sole

authority over immigration policy.

SPLIT RULING

In a split ruling issued in June, the Supreme Court struck

down rules that would have required immigrants to carry

immigration papers at all times, banned illegal immigrants from

soliciting work in public places, and allowed police to arrest

them without warrants if they were suspected of committing

crimes warranting deportation.

Brewer spokesman Matthew Benson said it is time the Arizona

law "be allowed to take effect."

"Governor Brewer has full faith and confidence that Arizona

law enforcement can implement this law without violating

individuals' civil rights," he said.

On Monday, a federal appeals court ruled that Alabama and

Georgia could go ahead with their laws allowing police checks of

criminal suspects in line with the Supreme Court's ruling on the

Arizona law, though it blocked other parts of those states'

laws.

In the Supreme Court's majority opinion, Justice Anthony

Kennedy left open the possibility that, once the law takes

effect, constitutional or other challenges can proceed against

the Arizona requirement that police check the immigration status

of people they stop and suspect are in the country illegally.

Meanwhile, Obama has implemented a new policy allowing

illegal immigrants between the ages of 15 and 30 who entered the

country as children to apply for permits that will allow them to

stay in the country and work legally for two years.

Within hours of this policy taking effect last Wednesday,

Brewer clashed with the White House by issuing an executive

order denying state benefits, such as driver's licenses, to

illegal immigrants shielded from deportation under the new

rules.

Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman, a Republican, issued a

similar challenge to the Obama policy by also vowing to withhold

state benefits.

(Additional reporting by Tim Gaynor; Writing by Alex

Dobuzinskis; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Philip Barbara)

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