Civil rights groups plan to appeal ruling in 1 of last challenges to Arizona immigration law

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PHOENIX — A coalition of civil rights groups said Monday it will appeal a ruling by a judge who upheld the most contentious provisions of Arizona's 2010 immigration enforcement law.

The appeal will target a decision by U.S. District Court Judge Susan Bolton to dismiss a legal challenge by the coalition, saying it failed to show that police would enforce the law differently for Latinos than it would for people of other ethnicities.

The ruling upheld a requirement that police who are enforcing other laws question the immigration status of those suspected of being in the country illegally.

The provision was previously upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, though the law's critics continued to push their challenge at a lower-court level.

The September ruling by Bolton marked a victory for supporters of the law. However, courts have either struck down or blocked enforcement of other sections of the statute, such as a requirement that immigrants carry registration papers and a ban on people blocking traffic when they seek or offer day labor services on streets.

Frustration with federal enforcement along Arizona's border with Mexico spawned a movement nearly a decade ago to have local police take on the issue of illegal immigration. Several laws, such as the state's ban on immigrant smuggling, have since been thrown out by the courts.

Seven challenges filed after then Gov. Jan Brewer signed the measure into law had sought to overturn it on unconstitutional grounds. The civil rights coalition's lawsuit was the last remaining legal challenge to the law.

Late last year, a Mexican woman filed a different type of challenge that alleged constitutional violations in how police actually enforced the law. Pinal County agreed to pay a $25,000 settlement to settle the woman's case.

Alessandra Soler, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona, one of the groups that challenged the law, singled out Gov. Doug Ducey in her criticism of the statute.

"He can't, on the one hand, say that he is trying to rebrand Arizona as a more welcoming and inclusive state and, on the other hand, continue to enforce and defend one of the country's most discriminatory laws," Soler said.

Ducey spokesman Daniel Scarpinato said the governor has a duty to make sure laws are enforced.

"Public safety and border security are important, but we can also have a respectful and productive relationship with our neighbor to the south," Scarpinato said.

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