Federal Arizona immigration lawsuit says state law is illegal

a do not enter road sign

The Justice Department filed an injunction against the Arizona immigration law, saying that a state statute that preempts federal law is unconstitutional. Flickr photo.

The Arizona immigration law was challenged Tuesday in a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Justice Department. The federal government wants to block the law from taking effect later this month. The Arizona immigration lawsuit claims that Arizona’s new law is unconstitutional because  it overrides federal immigration law. Supporters of the Arizona immigration law say that a state overwhelmed with illegal immigration can’t wait for the federal government to deal with immigration reform.

Feds: Arizona immigration law is unconstitutional

The Arizona immigration law requires state and local police to question and possibly arrest illegal immigrants during the enforcement of other laws. Immigrants must carry their alien registration documents at all times. The Washington Post reports that the Arizona immigration lawsuit says the law illegally intrudes on federal prerogatives, invoking as its main argument the legal doctrine of “preemption,” which says federal law trumps state statutes. The Justice Department argues that enforcing immigration laws is a federal responsibility.

Feds: Immigration law violates civil rights

The preemption doctrine is being used in the Arizona immigration lawsuit because it has been established in Supreme Court decisions. The Post said some legal experts have said this is a good strategy to persuade a judge to declare the Arizona immigration law unconstitutional. But the Arizona immigration lawsuit also asserts that the Arizona law would violate civil rights and lead to police harassment of both U.S. citizens and legal immigrants.

Arizona: the epicenter of the immigration crisis

Arizona passed the immigration law after years of public outcry over social problems credited to illegal immigration, including unemployment, drug trafficking and violent kidnappings. The Associated Press reports that the state is the biggest gateway into the U.S. for illegal immigration and is home to an estimated 460,000 illegal immigrants. Arizona’s Republican governor, Jan Brewer, has accused the Obama administration of failing to secure the border with Mexico, forcing her state to act on its own on the immigration crisis. Brewer’s spokesman told AP that the governor would have preferred that the the federal government focus its resources and attention on the immigration crisis rather than the Arizona immigration lawsuit.

Poll: Border security trumps immigration reform

Despite the outcry for immigration reform legislation, CNN reports that several senior Democratic sources said they see virtually no chance of Congress stepping up to deal with it before November’s midterm elections. A CNN/Opinion Research Corp. national poll conducted in late May says nearly nine out of 10 Americans want to increase U.S. law enforcement along the border with Mexico. Eight in 10 also supported a program that would allow illegal immigrants already in the United States to stay here and apply for legal residency if they have a job and pay taxes. But only 38 percent say that immigration reform should be a higher priority than border security.

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