On Monday, in a unanimous ruling, a three-judge panel of the San Francisco-based U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals found a controversial portion of the Arizona immigration law that targeted day laborers to be unconstitutional, and upheld a February 2012 decision of a district judge to block the law.
While the U.S. Supreme Court has already struck down most of the Arizona immigration law launched in 2010 by Governor Jan Brewer last year, parts of the law continued to exist and confuse people. The matter in the Supreme Court had primarily been fought over the jurisdiction of federal government to control immigration, and to what extent an individual state may impose its own rules.
The section concerned in the instant case made it a crime if a motorist stopped to hire a day laborer and traffic was blocked. The section also prohibited any day laborer from entering a car that is obstructing traffic.
The Ninth Circuit held the law exceeded the scope of state authority in restricting commercial free speech rights.
Attorneys for the state argued that the state’s sole intention was to promote traffic safety, but the Ninth Circuit did not buy the argument and observed the law was “motivated by a desire to eliminate the livelihoods of undocumented immigrants.” The opinion added, “Laws that limit commercial speech must not be more extensive than necessary to serve a substantial government interest.”
Governor Jan Brewer’s spokesman, Matthew Benson, said the governor is discussing the possibility of appeal and that “this is an important tool to give law enforcement.”
Pablo Alvarado, director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, and whose group was co-counsel in the matter, told the media, “It is fundamentally wrong to criminalize work, to criminalize people who are looking for work to feed their loved ones.”