Nine states file amicus brief supporting Arizona immigration law

[JURIST] Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox (R) [official website] filed an amicus curiae brief [text, PDF] Wednesday on behalf of nine states in support of Arizona in a lawsuit filed earlier this month [complaint, PDF; JURIST report] by the US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website], seeking to permanently enjoin Arizona's controversial immigration law [SB 1070 materials; JURIST news archive]. The DOJ's complaint claims that the law is preempted by federal law and therefore violates the Supremacy Clause [text] of the US Constitution. In their amicus brief, the states, including Texas, Florida and Pennsylvania, contend SB 1070 is not preempted by federal law unless the statute consists of a regulation of immigration or unless it conflicts with federal law so that the objective of the federal law cannot be achieved as intended by Congress. The states argue that SB 1070 does not constitute a regulation of immigration and that it does not conflict with, but rather supports federal immigration law. The states also maintain that Congress intended for there to be cooperative enforcement of immigration laws and that the DOJ seeks to supplant the cooperative scheme with a system where the federal government chooses which laws to enforce. Cox, announcing the filing of the brief, condemned the DOJ lawsuit [press release], stating, "Arizona, Michigan and every other state have the authority to enforce immigration laws, and it is appalling to see President Obama use taxpayer dollars to stop a state's efforts to protect its own borders." The Arizona legislation was signed into law [JURIST report] 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 cannot properly implement the law without racially profiling.

 

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