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United States vs Arizona: Federal government's preeminent authority over immigration

Written by Stephon Johnson on 16 July 2010.

us vs arizona(NNPA) – In the works since May, the White House plans to challenge the immigration policy that has sparked debate and controversy. The U.S. Justice Department has officially filed a lawsuit against the state of Arizona seeking an injunction on the state’s immigration law (known as SB 1070), claiming it illegally intrudes on federal prerogatives.

“In our constitutional system, the federal government has preeminent authority to regulate immigration matters,” read the complaint. “This authority derives from the United States Constitution and numerous acts of Congress. The nation’s immigration laws reflect a careful and considered balance of national law enforcement, foreign relations and humanitarian interests.”

The complaint also established that the Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice and the Department of State are assigned the task of enforcing laws already in place.

The law, designed to identify, prosecute and deport so-called illegal immigrants, would make the failure to carry proper identification a crime and give broad power to  Arizona police departments to detain an individual if he is suspected of being an illegal immigrant.

Detractors have called the law open season on Hispanic Americans in Arizona, believing that the law is a direct response to immigration from Mexico.

The federal lawsuit is the fifth challenge to Arizona’s policy as lawsuits from Phoenix and Tucson police officers, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, and the National Immigration Law Center have attempted to test the policy’s legality.

But everyone isn’t happy with the federal government challenging what they believe are states’ rights.

Two Republican senators from Arizona, Jon Kyl and  John McCain, sent out a joint statement against the lawsuit calling President Barack Obama weak on immigration enforcement.

“It’s far too premature for the Obama administration to challenge the legality of this new law since it has not yet been enforced,” read the statement. “Most legal experts believe such a ‘facial challenge’ to the statute would be very difficult to win. Moreover, the American people must wonder whether the Obama administration is really committed to securing the border when it sues a state that is simply trying to protect its people by enforcing immigration law.

“The Obama administration has not done everything it can do to protect the people of Arizona from the violence and crime illegal immigration beings to our state,” the statement continued. “Until it does, the federal government should not be suing Arizona on the grounds that immigration enforcement is solely a federal responsibility.”

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer took to her Twitter page to respond to the lawsuit. “We will be very aggressive in defending our law,” she said. Brewer also suggested that supporters donate to the state’s “defense fund” at www.az.gov to assist with the state’s “border security and immigration matters.” •