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Legal challenges to Arizona immigration law multiply

Three legal challenges to the Arizona immigration law have already been filed in federal court in Arizona, asking judges to block implementation of the statute and declare it unconstitutional.

By Staff writer / April 29, 2010

Two protesters of the Arizona immigration law stood outside Wrigley Field in Chicago before the opening game of the Chicago Cubs' series against the Arizona Diamondbacks Thursday.

Nam Y. Huh/AP



Advocates from immigrant rights groups set the stage on Thursday for a major legal showdown in the federal courts over the constitutionality of the tough new Arizona immigration law.

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In a news conference on the grounds of the Arizona State Capitol in Phoenix, leaders from the groups pledged to file a “vigorous and sophisticated” challenge to the law.

“If this law were implemented, citizens would effectively have to carry ‘their papers’ at all times to avoid arrest,” said Alessandra Soler Meetze, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Arizona. “It is a low point in modern America when a state law requires police to demand documents from people on the street.”

Three legal challenges to the Arizona law have already been filed in federal court in Arizona, asking judges to block implementation of the statute and ultimately declare the measure unconstitutional.

  • The National Coalition of Latino Clergy and Christian Leaders filed a class action suit on Thursday on behalf of a group of citizens, legal residents, and illegal immigrants who say the law will devastate lives and businesses in Arizona’s Latino community.
  • Tucson Police Officer Martin Escobar said in his suit, also filed Thursday, that there was no way to carry out the mandate of the Arizona law in a race-neutral way. He said the state statute compels law enforcement officials “to actively engage in racial profiling to detain, question, and require every Hispanic” to prove their legal status.
  • A third lawsuit has been filed by Washington, D.C., resident and US citizen Roberto Javier Frisancho, who said he plans to visit Arizona in September to conduct research, but is now fearful of how he may be treated as a person of Hispanic heritage. The act “establishes a crime of being Hispanic,” he says in the suit.

The legal moves came as debate over the new measure continued to spread across the country.

Signs of protest and support

The presence of the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chicago’s Wrigley Field sparked a protest. And calls are mounting for a boycott of Arizona tourism and businesses.