lifted as Prop 200 is set to become law
By Ananda Shorey
A federal judge on Wednesday ended a temporary restraining order blocking enforcement of a voter-approved initiative to deny illegal immigrants some public benefits.
The order means the initiative becomes Arizona law.
U.S. District Judge David C. Bury temporarily barred the state from implementing Proposition 200 on Nov. 30, after the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund asked him to declare it unconstitutional.
MALDEF's lawsuit raised questions about the constitutionality of the initiative approved by voters Nov. 2, and Bury said in his order that he wanted more time to consider the issue.
Proposition 200 requires proof of immigration status when obtaining certain government services and proof of citizenship when registering to vote.
Government workers who don't report illegal immigrants seeking benefits could face jail time and a fine.
Backers sold the measure during the campaign as a way to begin cracking down on illegal immigration in Arizona, the busiest illegal entry point on the U.S.-Mexico border.
Gov. Janet Napolitano, who opposed the measure during the campaign, signed a proclamation putting the initiative into effect but prohibited implementation of its provisions on public services until Bury made a decision.
Prior to the Wednesday ruling, Napolitano said the state was prepared to implement the law.
MALDEF's lawsuit argued that Proposition 200 is unconstitutional because it usurps the federal government's power over immigration and naturalization.
The group contends the law will harm families who depend on public benefits for basic necessities and could potentially cut them from all state services.
The measure wasn't intended to affect federally mandated services. Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard has concluded that Proposition 200 applies only to non-mandated welfare benefits.
Supporters of the measure, however, filed a lawsuit Nov. 18 seeking to broaden its scope to include benefits such as public housing, food assistance, college education and employment benefits.