Photo from Alto Arizona
The Justice Department has filed a federal lawsuit against the state of Arizona, regarding its new law requiring police officers to check the legal status of anyone they "reasonably suspect" to be an undocumented immigrant. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that the lawsuit would be filed several weeks ago, and it comes on the tail of President Obama's major speech on immigration last week.
The official press release is available on the Justice Department website. Politico also provides coverage.
As expected, the Justice Department's brief states that S.B. 1070 is unconstitutional. “[T]he Constitution and federal law do not permit the development of a patchwork of state and local immigration policies throughout the country.”
The brief also makes the point that S.B. 1070 interferes with federal immigration enforcement and distracts police officers from their regular duties.
Arizona's new law is scheduled to go into effect on July 29. Attorney General Eric Holder has requested an injunction but it has not yet been granted.
FCNL recognizes that inaction at the national level has created a vacuum into which states have stepped to create their own immigration laws. We oppose the new Arizona law, which opens the door to racial profiling and erodes trust between police officers and the communities they serve. We welcome the Department of Justice’s lawsuit, which asserts that federal immigration laws should be enforced by federal authorities. The Obama administration does not want to see a patchwork of state laws created, which would only yield a more chaotic and less humane immigration system.
The outcome of this lawsuit may influence the twenty-two other states which have proposed or introduced similar legislation. Ultimately, however, blocking state legislation will not be enough to fix the broken immigration system. We urge Congress to enact comprehensive, humane immigration reform before more states and cities decide to follow Arizona’s path toward a reactionary state in which we all have to “show our papers” to prove our legitimate status in the United States.