DOJ may consider second lawsuit against controversial Arizona immigration law

[JURIST] US Attorney General Eric Holder [official website] said during an interview [transcript] Sunday on CBS's Face the Nation that the Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] will continue monitoring the effects of Arizona's recently passed immigration bill [SB 1070 materials; JURIST news archive] and would consider filing a second lawsuit if implementation of the bill had a "racial profiling impact." The DOJ filed suit [JURIST report] last week seeking to permanetly enjoin [complaint, PDF] the controversial law from going into effect. The complaint states that the law is preempted by federal law and therefore violates the Supremacy Clause [text] of the US Constitution. The DOJ argues that the Constitution and federal law "do not permit the development of a patchwork of state and local immigration policies throughout the country." The agency also claims that the federal government has preeminent authority to regulate immigration matters and that the enforcement of the Arizona law is counterproductive to the national immigration policy. Holder indicated that the DOJ filed the initial suit based on preemption because they thought it was the strongest argument and presents the most serious problem with the law as it exists now. He noted, however, that racial profiling could become an issue if the law is allowed to go into effect and the government would consider a second suit based on possible violations of the Equal Protection Clause [text]. Arizona Governor Jan Brewer (R) [official website] has stated that she is certain the law can be enforced without racial profiling [AP report]. The legislation was signed into law [JURIST report] by Brewer in April and is set to take effect July 29.

The Arizona law criminalizes illegal immigration and requires police officers to question an individual's immigration status if the officer has a "reasonable suspicion" to believe an individual is in the country illegally. It has been widely criticized in regard to the law's constitutionality and alleged "legalization" of racial profiling. Earlier this month, the American Bar Association (ABA) [official website] filed an amicus curiae brief [JURIST report] urging the federal district court in Arizona to block the enforcement of the state's immigration law. The brief was filed in support of a class-action lawsuit [JURIST report] led by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website]. The Mexican government has also filed an amicus curiae brief [JURIST report] supporting the ACLU suit, claiming a substantial interest in ensuring its "bilateral diplomatic relations" with the US remain "transparent, consistent and reliable, and not frustrated by the actions of individual US states." The government also claims an interest in ensuring that its citizens are "accorded human and civil rights when present in the US in accordance with federal immigration law." Brewer is also currently facing federal lawsuits filed by the National Coalition of Latino Clergy and Christian Leaders and several Tuscon police officers [JURIST reports], who claim they can not properly implement the law without racially profiling.

 

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