PHOENIX — A judge in Arizona ruled Tuesday that police can immediately start enforcing the most contentious section of the state’s immigration law, marking the first time officers can carry out the controversial ‘‘show me your papers’’ provision.
The decision by US District Judge Susan Bolton is the latest milestone in a two-year legal battle over the requirement. It culminated in a US Supreme Court decision in June that upheld the provision on the grounds that it does not conflict with federal law.
Opponents responded to the Supreme Court decision by asking Bolton to block the requirement on different grounds, arguing that it would lead to systematic racial profiling and unreasonably long detentions of Latinos if it is enforced. She said early this month she would not block it, and gave the go-ahead Tuesday for the law to take effect.
The section of the law requires that officers, while enforcing other laws, question the immigration status of those suspected of being in the country illegally. The ‘‘show me your papers’’ name comes from opponents.
Arizona’s law was passed in 2010 amid voter frustration with the state’s role as an illegal entry point into the country. Five states — Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, South Carolina, and Utah — have adopted variations on Arizona’s law.
A call to the office of Governor Jan Brewer, who signed the measure into law, was not immediately returned Tuesday afternoon.
A coalition of civil rights groups is awaiting a ruling from the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on their latest effort to prevent the questioning requirement from taking effect.
‘‘Our next step is seeing what happens with that,’’ said Linton Joaquin, a lawyer for National Immigration Law Center.