TUCSON (KGUN9-TV - One day after the first SB1070 court hearing there are new questions about how police will actually enforce the law. Nine On Your Side's Steve Nunez poured over his notes from the hearing and found testimony from the governor's own attorney that could deal a blow to the law's future. Judge Susan Bolton admitted the provision to "stop, detain, and arrest" is the most contentious part of Arizona's immigration law.
At issue: how long can an officer detain a person before determining immigration status?
Governor Brewer's Attorney John Bouma could not give an answer. He did say SB1070 still gives officers the option to call ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) when reasonable.
Santa Cruz County Sheriff Tony Estrada says if that's the case he can then continue to do what he's been doing for years: turn illegal's over to Border Patrol. Nunez asked Estrada: "What's the difference between stopping someone for a civil violation, writing a ticket and letting them go and stopping someone for a civil violation, writing a ticket but then questioning them for immigration status?"
Estrada answered, "With a civil violation you can't hold anybody and they can refuse to sign, for example, a traffic ticket. On a criminal violation they don't have an option if they don't sign it they get arrested."
Under SB1070, that means a person, including a legal resident alien or U.S. Citizen who fails to provide immigration papers or a valid driver's license, could be indefinitely detained until they can prove their legal status. Judge Bolton also raised the question: would undetermined detention time violate constitutional laws that restrict unreasonable detentions?
Immigration Attorney John Messing said the fact Governor Brewer's legal team could not answer this question blows a big hole in their defense case. "Because the constitution says you can't hold people without making an initial appearance within 24 hours that's the way Arizona structured its criminal code. If Governor Brewer's attorney's lose this initial salvo I think certain momentum will be built into the case that at the district court level could be disastrous for their side," said Messing. Messing now believes SB1070 will be challenged all the way to the Supreme Court.