Arizona Ruling a Win for Immigrant Women

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July 29, 2010

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Judge blocks harshest aspects of immigration law, citing devastating impact on victims of violence

New York (July 29, 2010) - On July 28, 2010, Judge Susan R. Bolton of the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona issued an order that blocks the most controversial parts of Arizona's immigration enforcement law (SB 1070) from going into effect.

Seven lawsuits had been filed against the law, challenging its constitutionality and alleging that it would have led to racial profiling. Judge Bolton conducted hearings on three of those suits – including the Friendly House challenge (which Legal Momentum's amicus brief supported) and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) challenge, which was filed after the Friendly House case.

Judge Bolton's partial preliminary injunction order relates directly to the DOJ case and has been incorporated into the Friendly House case as well. Her order states that the DOJ would likely prevail on the merits in showing that certain Sections of SB 1070 are preempted by federal law.

Accordingly, the order blocks the sections that would require:

  • officers to check a person's immigration status while enforcing other laws;
  • immigrants to carry their "papers" at all times; and
  • immigrants to refrain from seeking work.

The order also enjoins officers from conducting warrantless arrests of individuals based on a belief that a person may have committed a public offense that would make her removable from the U.S.

Judge Bolton expressly stated that the "United States is likely to suffer irreparable harm" unless the sections described above are enjoined. While enjoining those provisions today, Judge Bolton also stated that: "There is a substantial likelihood that officers will wrongfully arrest legal resident aliens. ... By enforcing this statute, Arizona would impose a 'distinct, unusual and extraordinary' burden on legal resident aliens that only the federal government has the authority to impose." 

Judge Bolton also noted the particular harm SB 1070 would cause victims of violence (most often women), stating that U and T visa applicants and self-petitioners for relief under the Violence Against Women Act would not have the documents SB 1070 required immigrants to carry to prove their lawful status.

While the remainder of SB 1070 will take effect as scheduled tomorrow (including provisions that: require AZ state officials to work with federal officials on immigration matters; permit AZ residents to bring private lawsuits against AZ law enforcement officers who adopt policies that restrict enforcement of federal immigration laws, and amend the definitions of certain existing AZ state crimes), Governor Brewer may not enforce the "detain and verify," "identity document," "job seeker restriction," or "arrest for removability" provisions that were the primary subjects of the concerns expressed in Legal Momentum's amicus brief.

Read the order by U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton striking down sections of the Arizona immigration law.

Read the Amicus Brief that Legal Momentum submitted in Friendly House v. Whiting case.  View the list of organizations that signed on in support of Legal Momentum's brief.

Read the Plaintiff's brief in Friendly House v. Whiting, arguing against SB 1070.

Learn more about Legal Momentum's Immigrant Women Program


About Legal Momentum

Legal Momentum is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in 1970 to advance the rights of women by using the power of the law and creating innovative public policy in three broad areas: economic justice, freedom from gender-based violence and equality under the law. For more information visit