A federal judge overturned a 2005 Arizona law that made it a state crime to smuggle undocumented immigrants. The law was struck down on grounds it pre-empted federal authority to prosecute smuggling crimes.
Judge Susan Bolton issued the ruling Friday in yet another move against a series of Arizona state laws designed to curb illegal immigration. Bolton’s decision struck down both the law passed in 2005 and an updated version embedded in the broad state immigration law known as SB1070, passed in 2010.
Last month, a federal appeals court also threw out a 2006 law passed in Arizona that denied bail to undocumented immigrants charged with a range of crimes. Earlier this summer, a court also blocked Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer’s executive order to deny drivers’ licenses to undocumented immigrants with work permits under the federal deferred action program.
While the 2005 smuggling law was designed to prosecute people facilitating the human smuggling trade, it was used against undocumented immigrants themselves, who were often charged as co-conspirators. Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, a vocal advocate of strict immigration enforcement, had enforced the law frequently. In 2013, a federal judge ruled it unconstitutional to use the law as a way to charge undocumented immigrants as co-conspirers of smugglers.
The smuggling provision was the last element of the federal government’s challenge to SB1070, launched shortly after the law was first passed. The Obama administration argued immigration was a matter of federal law, not state law. The Supreme Court overturned most of its provisions in 2012, but left intact one measure that allowed police to check a person’s immigration status during a routine stop.
SB1070 had made it a crime for immigrants to be in the state without required identification documents, and penalized anyone who transported or harbored undocumented immigrants in Arizona. The strict measures stirred up nationwide criticism while simultaneously inspiring a handful of other states to pass similar legislation.