Arizona is already gearing up to enforce its strict immigration law as it anticipates a favorable ruling from the Supreme Court sometime this month, with Gov. Jan Brewer issuing an executive order this week telling police to bone up on the details of the law.
Mrs. Brewer ordered that training materials produced to help police understand the law and its limits should be distributed throughout the state in preparation for a ruling.
The materials, created by a state board that sets standards for all law enforcement, include a DVD designed to help police understand the circumstances that would let them question someone about immigration status.
That power has been the most controversial part of the law, SB 1070, which Mrs. Brewer signed in 2010 but was largely halted by lower federal courts as an infringement on federal powers.
In her order, Mrs. Brewer said the materials need to “make clear that an individual’s race, color or national origin alone cannot be grounds for reasonable suspicion to believe any law has been violated.”
Among other provisions, the Arizona law requires police to check the immigration status of those they have encountered during their duties and have reasonable suspicion are in the country illegally.
Immigrant-rights groups and civil liberties organizations said SB 1070 would lead to racial profiling, but that has yet to be tested in court.
Instead, the Obama administration sued to halt Arizona’s law, arguing it would set the stage for a patchwork of laws throughout the country and infringe on the federal government’s exclusive rights to set immigration policy.
The Supreme Court heard arguments in the case in late April and is expected to rule before the end of June, when its 2011-2012 term concludes.
During oral arguments the justices seemed to take a dim view of the government’s challenge to at least parts of the law, saying the state seemed to want to push federal officials to enforce their own laws rather than try to compete with them.
The Obama administration said it should be allowed to determine the extent of calls it gets from local authorities to respond to illegal immigrants, but the justices said the government can always ignore those calls if they want.
The administration appeared on firmer ground, however, when it argued Arizona should not be allowed to impose its own state penalties, such as jail time against illegal immigrants who try to seek jobs.
In her executive order, Mrs. Brewer said authorities should be prepared to update their police training materials with any guidance the Supreme Court gives on how to enforce the law.
She issued a similar executive order in 2010 when the law was to go into effect, and decided with the court ruling pending it was wise to make sure police were prepared.
“The governor thought it was an appropriate time to revisit that and make certain law enforcement across the state of Arizona is as prepared as possible for the partial or full implementation of this law,” said Matt Benson, a spokesman for the governor.
Originally published in The Washington Times.