By Jude Joffe-Block, Fronteras Desk
PHOENIX — In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Arizona's immigration enforcement law, legal battles continue in South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Indiana and Utah, which all passed similar laws.
The Supreme Court struck down several provisions of Arizona's law, but the court did allow the "stop and check" provision to proceed for the time being. That could have implications for four other states.
That provision of Arizona's law, also known as Section 2B, directs police to check the immigration status of people they stop if they have a reasonable suspicion the person is in the country illegally.
That section was replicated in Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina and Utah's laws, though injunctions have prevented the provision from being implemented in all of those states so far, except Alabama.
Litigation had been placed on hold in those states while the Supreme Court ruled on Arizona's law.
Now, with the high court's verdict in, litigants in Alabama and Georgia filed updated briefs to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals late last week.
Georgia's lawyers are arguing the state should be able to implement police immigration status checks, since the Supreme Court allowed Arizona's provision to go forward.
"There is kind of an argument about what status quo should prevail while this thing gets sorted out, and there is a lot to sort out," said Hiroshi Motomura, a professor at UCLA School of Law who also informally advised some of the groups who challenged state immigration laws.
Motomura says the fact that the Supreme Court didn't strike down Arizona's Section 2B doesn't guarantee that lower courts in other states will necessarily lift the blocks on similar provisions.
"There are subtle differences in the language of each of these statutes and subtle differences in what that language might allow in terms of questioning people about immigration status, and in terms of allowing them to be detained," said Motomura. "Those subtle differences could cause the balance to tip differently in terms of what status quo is going to be preserved while the litigation continues."
In South Carolina, a federal district judge who had previously blocked that state from enacting police immigration check announced Monday that provision would remain on hold until the case goes before a federal appeals court.
Fronteras Desk is a collaborative project of public media entities in Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico and Texas, including Arizona Public Media.