Members of the Hispanic community celebrated in front of the Arizona state capitol building after a judge blocked key parts of a law cracking-down on illegal immigrants. The ruling came just hours before it was due to go into effect on Thursday.
District court Judge Susan Bolton issued a temporary injunction, but that is just the first stage is what looks set to be a long legal battle likely to go all the way up to the US Supreme Court.
The law’s author, State Senator Russell Pearce, said the fight goes on: “I want people to understand, it was not a ruling gutting the bill. It was a temporary road block on certain portions. We will win that on appeal.”
Arizona’s Republican Governor Jan Brewer moved quickly to file an expedited appeal with the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit seeking to lift the injunction.
Wednesday’s ruling was a significant victory for the White House, which wants to pass a comprehensive immigration law tightening border security but also to change the regulations to give millions of illegal immigrants a chance to become legal US citizens.
Opinion polls show nearly two thirds of Americans support a crackdown on the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the US, out of a population of around 300 million.
Mexico was angry about the Arizona law and welcomed this ruling.
Mexican Foreign Minister Patricia Espinosa said: “The government of Mexico would like to express its recognition for the determination demonstrated by the federal government of the United States and the actions of the civil organisations that organised lawsuits against the SB 1070 law.”
Demonstrators cheered and chanted outside the US embassy in Mexico City and the Mexican government hailed the ruling as a “step in the right direction”.