The controversial Arizona law targeting immigrants for police scrutiny has been blocked again in an appeals court ruling.
The fate of Arizona's controversial Arizona law targeting illegal immigrants remains in limbo, after the state's latest attempt to lift a injunction blocking the law failed.
The Ninth US circuit court of appeal ruled [pdf] that the federal government was likely to win its case that the law is unconstitutional, and so turned down an appeal by Arizona's Republican governor Jan Brewer to lift the injunction imposed last year.
The battle now is likely to go all the way to the US Supreme Court.
The law, known as SB 1070, became a national controversy after Brewer and Arizona Republicans accused the US government of not doing enough to stem illegal immigration and enacted their own, more stringent regulations, which drew bitter complaints from civil rights organisations and immigrant groups.
The new law would require state police to check the immigration status of all arrested suspects and hold indefinitely anyone else they have "reasonable suspicion" of entering the country illegally. It also punishes non-citizens for failing to apply for or carry "alien registration papers", or for seeking jobs.
The law also allows for "warrentless arrest" if the police have probable cause to believe they have committed a public offense that makes them removable from the United States – such as entering the country illegally.
Critics say it gives Arizona authorities the power to harass Hispanic residents, legal or otherwise, while the federal government objected on the grounds that the law encroached on its powers over immigration enforcement.
In July last year a US district court judge issued an injunction against the most controversial parts of the law, and today's appeals court ruling only applies to the injunction, not to the challenge to the law itself.
At the time of the injunction Brewer said: "I will battle all the way to the Supreme Court, if necessary, for the right to protect the citizens of Arizona."