Cops Can Enforce 'Show Me Papers' Provision of AZ Immigration Law

By Deanne Katz, Esq. on September 20, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Arizona's controversial immigration law was passed back in 2010 but Tuesday was the first time one of the more hotly contested provisions could be enforced.

U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton ruled that police can start enforcing the 'show me your papers' provision of the law after a two year legal battle. The ruling comes after a Supreme Court decision earlier this year that upheld the provision, reports CNN.

The provision doesn't mean police can check anyone's papers. But it does give them additional power to question immigration status in certain circumstances.

The 'show me your paper's part of the Arizona immigration law only applies to people who have already been stopped or arrested by police.

Once the police have reason to believe a person is breaking the law, they may also question their immigration status. If the suspect is not a legal resident police may report them to the federal government.

Opponents of the law worry that this could lead to racial profiling and discrimination against Arizona's Latino population. But proponents are also worried that federal immigration officials won't respond to people discovered using the Arizona law, reports Seattle PI.

This provision was only just put into effect because of the ongoing legal battle over the immigration law. When the law was signed by Governor Jan Brewer, opponents immediately got an injunction to prevent its enforcement.

In court, an injunction often means the status quo is maintained with respect to a contested law. The present legal situation won't be changed until the case is resolved.

This law was particularly hard fought and the final case was only resolved in June 2012. Until that time, Arizona could not enforce any provisions of the law.

The ACLU had hoped Bolton would block the provision as they plan to mount a new legal case against the 'show me your papers' clause, according to CNN. While that may change the law in the future, for now people stopped by Arizona police may have to prove their immigration status.

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