In the end -- or rather in the interim since the ruling is temporary -- a federal judge has come down on the side of common sense in striking down the most controversial aspect of Arizona's draconian new immigration enforcement law, which goes into effect today.
While saying that some aspects of the law can go into effect as scheduled, District Judge Susan Bolton in Phoenix issued a preliminary injunction against sections that called for officers to check a person's immigration status while enforcing other laws and that required immigrants to carry their papers at all times.
Bolton put those sections on hold while she continues to hear the larger issues in challenges to the law.
"There is a substantial likelihood that officers will wrongfully arrest legal resident aliens," Bolton wrote. "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."
The law has become a political lightning rod nationally with members of the Republican-dominated state legislature and Republican Governor Jan Brewer making unsubstantiated claims about why it was needed, chiefly the assertion that most illegal immigrants are drug dealers. In fact, crime has been dropping in Arizona despite a surge in immigration.
More recently, extreme right-wingers have claimed that Afghan soldiers studying English at a Texas military base are going AWOL and are being smuggled across the border by Mexican women wearing large skirts. Honest.
Polls show a majority of Americans support the notion of local police assisting in federal immigration enforcement, but in Arizona the law has led to an economic boycott that has impacted the state's important tourist industry.