PHOENIX — The Obama administration has signaled a willingness to drop its
legal fight against a section of Arizona’s 2010 immigration law that critics say
opens the door to racial profiling.
A deal between the Justice Department and Republican Gov. Jan Brewer would end
the court challenge asking a judge to strike down a requirement that police
question the immigration status of people suspected of being in the country
illegally, according to court records.
In exchange, Arizona would permanently do away with a provision requiring
immigrants to carry registration papers, lawyers on both sides of the case
wrote. Courts have blocked that section on a preliminary basis.
The attorneys cautioned in Thursday’s filing that they haven’t yet come up with
a proposed court order that would carry out their agreement in principle.
If such a deal is approved by a judge, all that would remain of the Obama
administration’s case would be a challenge to a 2005 immigrant smuggling law. No
agreement has been reached on that section.
The possible resolution of key parts of the challenge comes after nearly four
years of litigation.
The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the questioning provision, but it threw out the
section calling for registration paperwork.
The courts also blocked other parts of the law until the disputes are litigated
further, such as a prohibition on harboring immigrants who are in the country
illegally. The harboring requirement would be permanently blocked if the
proposed agreement goes through.
Messages left for the Justice Department and governor’s office weren’t
immediately returned Friday.
Two of six other challenges to the 2010 law remain.
One of the suits was brought by a coalition of civil rights groups mounting a
broader challenge than the Obama administration.
Karen Tumlin, an attorney representing the coalition, said that lawsuit will
continue even if the Obama administration’s case fades.
“There needs to be clarity that Arizonans cannot be illegally detained based
on their suspected immigration status,” Tumlin said.