Arizona Governor Jan Brewer filed an appeal against the injunction [GALLO/GETTY]

A federal appeals court in the United States upheld a preliminary injunction against major parts of a tough Arizona law that targets illegal immigrants.

The 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday turned down an appeal filed by governor Jan Brewer.

The governor had asked them to lift an injunction imposed by a federal judge in Phoenix the day before the law was to take effect on July 29, 2010.

Arizona's law would require police to determine the immigration status of a person they have detained and suspect is in the country illegally.

On Monday, the court ruled that a lower court did not abuse its authority by enjoining key sections of the state law that were challenged by the Obama administration.

The law, which was signed by Brewer at the end of April last year, had wide support in the Mexico border state and across the United States as a whole, but was opposed by Obama and civil rights groups.

Opponents of the law said it would lead to harassment of Hispanic Americans.

Stemming the flood of illegal immigrants

The US Justice Department had sued to block the law. It argued that it violated the constitution because enforcing immigration law was a federal issue.

Brewer's lawyers said the federal government hadn't effectively enforced immigration law and that the state law would assist federal authorities.

The Republican-controlled Arizona legislature passed the measure to try to stem the flood of thousands of illegal immigrants who cross its border from Mexico and to cut down on drug trafficking and other crimes in the area.

Susan Bolton, the US District Court Judge, had blocked the law's most controversial elements shortly before it was due to come into effect last July, arguing that immigration matters are the federal government's responsibility.

In addition to the requirement that police check immigration status, Bolton also had blocked a provision
requiring immigrants to carry their papers at all times and made it illegal for people without proper documents to solicit for work in public places.

Immigration as an issue has festered in US politics for years and attempts to overhaul the system have failed, most recently in 2007 when Republicans torpedoed reforms pushed by George W. Bush, then the Republican president.

Source: Agencies