Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Justice Department Sues Arizona Over Anti-Immigration Law

After much anticipation and speculation that a suit was eminent, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced this afternoon that it was filing a lawsuit against Arizona asking a federal judge to declare the state’s new anti-immigration law, SB 1070, as unconstitutional and strike it down. The defendants are named as the state and Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer.

“Arizonans are understandably frustrated with illegal immigration, and the federal government has a responsibility to comprehensively address those concerns,” Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement. “But diverting federal resources away from dangerous aliens such as terrorism suspects and aliens with criminal records will impact the entire country’s safety. Setting immigration policy and enforcing immigration laws is a national responsibility. Seeking to address the issue through a patchwork of state laws will only create more problems than it solves.”

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano also released a statement calling the anti-immigration measure an “inconsistent law.”

Sources say the Justice Department’s suit invokes the legal doctrine of “preemption” as its main legal argument.  The doctrine is based on the Constitution’s supremacy clause that states federal law trumps state statutes.

The suit requests a preliminary injunction to prohibit the law from going into effect as scheduled later this month.  DOJ argues that the law’s enactment will cause irreparable harm.

Controversy over the law has erupted since Governor Brewer signed it into effect in the spring.  Condemnation came swiftly from many including President Obama.

Arizona’s anti-immigration law is already facing at least five other lawsuits including one filed by several advocacy and rights organizations including the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF).  The federal case is expected to include declarations from other U.S. agencies claiming the law would place an undue burden on their ability to enforce immigration laws nationwide.

Based on Supreme Court decisions in the past, legal experts agree it is likely the law will be declared unconstitutional.

POLITICO

MALDEF

Washington Post