Arizona Immigration Debate: Justice Dept. sues Arizona over immigration law

07/07/2010 // WPB, FL, USA // Nicole Howley // Nicole Howley

Washington, D.C.— The U.S. Justice Department has filed suit against Arizona over the state’s controversial immigration law that allows local police to enforce federal immigration regulations. The Justice Department filed the federal lawsuit on Tuesday, July 5, 2010 in a Phoenix federal court.

The Justice Department claims the state’s immigration law is unconstitutional and illegally intrudes on federal prerogatives. The lawsuit argues that the federal laws overcome state statutes because of preemption, and because immigration laws are a federal responsibility, the states have no jurisdiction enforcing the laws.

The suit also claims that the Arizona immigration law would harm peoples civil right’s, which will lead to police harassment of legal U.S. citizens and foreigners.

According to the Justice Department’s legal brief, “Arizona impermissibly seeks to regulate immigration by creating an Arizona-specific immigration policy that is expressly designed to rival or supplant that of the federal government. As such, Arizona’s immigration policy exceeds a state’s role with respect to aliens, interferes with the federal government’s balanced administration of the immigration laws, and critically undermines U.S. foreign policy objectives.”

The filing contends that the law “does not simply seek to provide legitimate support to the federal government’s immigration policy, but instead creates an unprecedented independent immigration scheme that exceeds constitutional boundaries.” In addition, the Justice Department asserts the law would burden federal agencies, which will also divert resources from the pursuit of people implicated in terrorism, drug smuggling, gang activities and other crimes.

“The law’s mandates on Arizona law enforcement will also result in the harassment and detention of foreign visitors and legal immigrants, as well as U.S. citizens, who cannot readily prove their lawful status,” the Justice Department said.

Attorney General Eric Holder stated, “Arizonans are understandably frustrated with illegal immigration, and the federal government has a responsibility to comprehensively address those concerns. But diverting federal resources away from dangerous aliens such as terrorism suspects and aliens with criminal records will impact the entire country’s safety. Setting immigration policy and enforcing immigration laws is a national responsibility. Seeking to address the issue through a patchwork of state laws will only create more problems than it solves.”

The lawsuit is ultimately seeking an injunction, which will stop the legislation from taking effect later this month.

Legal News Reporter: Nicole Howley-Legal news for Arizona immigration lawyers.

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