Anti-Day Laborer and Anti-Free Speech Ordinance Blocked

In Valle del Sol v. Whiting, the Ninth Circuit appellate court ruled that two provisions of the controversial Arizona immigration law S.B. 1070, which prohibits day laborers from seeking work, cannot be enforced.

The provisions of the law at issue make it illegal for a person in a car to pick up and hire a person for work, and for someone to enter a stopped car for that purpose, if the vehicle blocks traffic.

The Ninth Circuit agreed with the trial court’s issuance of a preliminary injunction (which prevented the law from going into effect and being enforced), on the grounds that the provisions too broadly limit commercial speech, likely in violation of the First Amendment.

Arizona argued that the provisions were designed to improve traffic safety, but the court found—essentially—that this was bull, stating: “Arizona has also singled out day labor solicitation for a harsh penalty while leaving other types of solicitation speech that blocks traffic unburdened. Arizona defends this content based distinction by invoking the “unique” dangers posed by labor solicitation. That justification is only minimally supported by the record and, tellingly, S.B. 1070’s introduction says nothing about traffic safety. Rather it emphasizes that its purpose is to encourage self-deportation by stripping undocumented immigrants of their livelihood.”  (Valle del Sol v. Whiting (9th Cir. 12-15688 3/4/13), available at http://cdn.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2013/03/04/12-15688.pdf at p. 6.)

The Ninth Circuit found Arizona to be “[a]dopting content-based restrictions for reasons apparently unrelated to traffic safety” which “further supports the conclusion that the day labor provisions restrict more speech than necessary.” (Id.)

As a result of this ruling, enforcement of the day laborer provisions of S.B. 1070 will continue to be barred, under the injunction, until the legal challenge to the constitutionality of the law itself is resolved.

In a statement, Linton Joaquin, general counsel of the National Immigration Law Center, said: "Today's news reaffirms that Arizona's 'solution' really just brings its residents costly legal problems. Rather than defend laws that judge people by how they look, Arizona's elected officials should join some of their colleagues in Arizona and in Washington, DC by advocating for commonsense solutions to fix our outdated immigration process."

By Lisl Duncan

Legal Developments