Bonneville Phoenix Network
 KTAR News
 Arizona Sports
92.3 FM KTAR
Updated Mar 4, 2013 - 3:18 pm

Gov. Brewer loses appeal over Arizona’s day-labor rules

PHOENIX — An appeals court on Monday upheld a ruling that prevents police
in Arizona from enforcing a little-known section of the state’s 2010 immigration
enforcement law that prohibited people from blocking traffic when they seek or
offer day labor services on streets.

The ruling by a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals
marked a loss for Gov. Jan Brewer, who had asked the court to rescind a February
2012 decision by a judge who rejected Brewer’s arguments that the day labor
rules were needed for traffic safety.

Groups that challenged the law argued that the day labor rules
unconstitutionally restrict the free speech rights of people who want to express
their need for work.

The appeals court said U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton had correctly
determined that the day labor rules don’t meet a requirement that restrictions
on commercial speech be no more extensive than necessary to serve the state’s
interest in promoting traffic safety.

In Arizona, it’s legal to hire or be hired for day labor, and the state’s day
labor rules limit the ability of day laborers and employers to seek or offer a
lawful service, the appeals court wrote. “Arizona has also singled out day
labor solicitation for a harsh penalty while leaving other types of solicitation
speech that blocks traffic unburdened,” the appeals panel wrote.

The appeals court pointed out that the law’s introduction, which says the
statute’s purpose is make attrition through enforcement the state’s immigration
policy, says nothing about traffic safety.

The court also said the state’s punishment for breaking the day labor rules is
far out of line with punishments for similar traffic violations. For instance, a
person who is found by a court to have recklessly interfered with traffic faces
a 30-day sentence, while a violation of the day labor rules is a misdemeanor
punishable by a maximum 6-month jail sentence.

Dan Pochoda, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona,
one of the groups that challenged the day labor rules, said Arizona already has
plenty of power to confront its traffic woes. “There are already ordinances
directed toward that problem, and there has been no showing that those are not
adequate,” Pochoda said.

Brewer spokesman Matt Benson said in a written statement that Monday’s decision
is a disappointment and that the governor will be talking with her lawyers about
the state’s next step in the case.

The ruling on Monday focused on only the law’s day labor rules, which were
among a handful of sections of the law that were allowed to take effect after a
July 2010 decision.

The day labor restrictions weren’t among the sections of law that the Supreme
Court considered last year when it upheld the law’s most contentious section
that required police, while enforcing other laws, to question people’s
immigration status if they’re believed to be in the country illegally. The
nation’s highest court struck down other sections of the law, such as a
requirement that immigrants obtain or carry immigration registration papers.

It’s unclear whether the day labor rules were enforced by police while they
were in effect from July 2010 until the decision in February 2012.

Day labor organizers say they know of no arrests under the rules, though they
added that day laborers are still arrested on trespassing and other charges that
aren’t in the immigration law. In the past, some of the biggest police agencies
in Arizona have reported little _ if any _ use of provisions in the law.

Brewer’s lawyers had argued that the restrictions are meant to confront safety
concerns, distractions to drivers, harassment to passers-by, trespassing and
damage to property. They said day laborers congregate on roadsides in large
groups, flagging down vehicles and often swarming those that stop. They also
said day laborers in Phoenix and its suburbs of Chandler, Mesa and Fountain
Hills leave behind water bottles, food wrappers and other trash.

Groups that challenged the law say the state can’t justify the statewide ban on
work solicitation speech imposed by the rules. They contend that the state’s
arguments about traffic safety are a sham and that the real purpose of the day
labor rules is to remove day laborers from public view.


comments powered by Disqus