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Immigration law precedent set with block of day labor rule

Staten Island residents may be interested in a recent judgment that is setting immigration law precedence and tone across the country.

Whittling away at a 2010 immigration enforcement law in Arizona, a federal judge ruled that the First Amendment rights of people seeking or offering day labor services were more important than enforcing traffic safety. Apparently, when police noticed drivers stopping to pick up workers seeking manual labor for the day, they felt it created a traffic problem. Safety concerns, distractions to drivers, damage to property and trespassing were also cited as causes for the day labor provision in the law. While drivers were blocking traffic in the street waiting for the workers to enter their vehicle, officers were questioning the workers about their immigration status.

The judge noted that crackdowns on undocumented immigrants have nothing to do with traffic safety. Therefore, the judge said officers should defer to existing traffic laws that prevent motorists and pedestrians from endangering others. Not, she said, an immigration law with a clearly stated objective of reducing the numbers of illegal residents by enforcing new state and federal policies.

In 2010, the same judge blocked other portions of the law that would require police officers to question the immigration status of people they suspect are in the state illegally. The Supreme Court has already agreed to hear the governor's appeal of some of the judge's decisions.

Solicitation laws and ordinances in other states and jurisdictions have also been thrown out by other judges on grounds that they restrict free speech.

Source: The New York Times, "Arizona: Day Labor Rule Blocked," Feb. 29, 2012

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