AS/COA Online | DOJ Files Suit against Arizona over Immigration Law

The Obama administration had hinted at it and the wait is now over: On July 6 the U.S. Department of Justice filed suit  to halt enforcement of Arizona’s controversial immigration law. The brief argues that SB1070, passed in April and scheduled for July 29 implementation, obstructs Washington’s authority over immigration law and that “the Constitution and federal law do not permit the development of a patchwork of state and local immigration policies throughout the country.” By including such language, the Justice Department not only hopes to achieve an injunction against the law in Arizona’s U.S. District Court, but also to stem a spate of copycat legislation in other states. Moreover, the brief makes the case that SB1070 will hinder both local policing and national security efforts. “Arizonans are understandably frustrated with illegal immigration, and the federal government has a responsibility to comprehensively address those concerns,” said U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. “But diverting federal resources away from dangerous aliens such as terrorism suspects and aliens with criminal records will impact the entire country’s safety.”

The brief came from the Justice Department, not the White House, but was filed within days of U.S. President Barack Obama’s delivery of a speech urging comprehensive immigration reform in which he described Arizona’s law as “ill conceived.” Critics of the immigration law say it will lead to racial profiling, given it inclusion of a clause allowing police officers to request identification in cases “where reasonable suspicion exists that the person is an alien who is unlawfully present in the United States.”  While SB1070 has fanned the flames of the immigration debate domestically, it has drawn attention abroad as well. While touring Latin America in June, the first question posed in a televised interview with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton addressed the Arizona law. In her response, Clinton revealed the Justice Department’s plan to file a lawsuit.

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