DOJ sues AZ over immigration law

Via Fox News:

Accusing Arizona of trying to “second guess” the federal government, the Justice Department on Tuesday filed a lawsuit challenging the state’s immigration policy — claiming the “invalid” law interferes with federal immigration responsibilities and “must be struck down.”

In the suit, which names the state of Arizona as well as Gov. Jan Brewer as defendants, the Justice Department claims the federal government has “preeminent authority” on immigration enforcement and that the Arizona law “disrupts” that balance. It urges the U.S. District Court in Arizona to “preliminarily and permanently” prohibit the state from enforcing the law, which is scheduled to go into effect at the end of the month.

“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 written 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.”

The suit, which drew tough criticism from state lawmakers Tuesday, claimed the state law focuses only on getting rid of illegal immigrants and “ignores” other immigration objectives.

“The United States Constitution forbids Arizona from supplanting the federal government’s immigration regime with its own state-specific immigration policy,” the suit says. “A policy that, in purpose and effect, interferes with the numerous interests the federal government must balance.”

Click here to read the lawsuit.

Of course, Republicans – and not just those in Arizona – are understandably not happy with this but some Arizona Democrats serving in the US House aren’t too pleased with the DOJ’s move, either. Rep. Harry Mitchell’s response:

“I am extremely disappointed that the Obama Administration has decided to file a lawsuit against Arizona to try to overturn our state’s new immigration enforcement law, SB 1070. This is the wrong direction to go. I urged President Obama and his administration against doing so because I strongly believe their time, efforts and resources should be focused on securing our border and fixing our broken immigration system. Arizona needs Washington to take action, but a lawsuit is definitely not the kind of action we need.

Illegal immigration didn’t occur overnight, and the situation cannot wait simply because folks choose to play politics. Illegal immigration affects our state more than it does any other — more than half of all illegal crossings over the U.S.-Mexico border happen in Arizona. The federal government has a responsibility to secure the border and fix our broken immigration system, but hasn’t done so, and Arizona continues to shoulder the burden.

According to the Washington Post, the Justice Department will be arguing ‘preemption’ — that enforcing immigration laws is a federal responsibility. While I’m glad that they agree that that this is a federal responsibility, the federal government has clearly failed to meet this responsibility — and a lawsuit won’t do anything to fix that. The only thing this lawsuit will do is demonstrate to Arizonans that Washington still doesn’t get it.

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords:

I am disappointed with the federal lawsuit against SB 1070 for the same reason I was disappointed when this bill became law: Neither will do anything to make Arizona’s border communities more secure.

Both the law and the lawsuit challenging the law are unnecessary distractions. Arizonans want our nation to control its borders and bring a halt to the violence, smugglers and drugs that threaten our way of life.

To fully appreciate the seriousness of what Arizonans are up against, President Obama should come to the border. The president should spend an afternoon with the ranchers of Cochise County and the retirees of Green Valley so he can see for himself that what we need are Border Patrol agents on the border, not lawyers in court.

Federal lawyers arguing with state lawyers will do nothing to strengthen border security or to fix our broken immigration laws.

The supreme irony of the lawsuit is its premise that SB 1070 intrudes on the federal government’s responsibility to enforce immigration laws. Had the federal government taken that responsibility seriously in the past, neither today’s lawsuit nor the state law that prompted it would be necessary.

Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick:

This lawsuit is a sideshow, distracting us from the real task at hand. A court battle between the federal government and Arizona will not move us closer to securing the border or fixing America’s broken immigration system. The legal fights and boycotts are drawing focus and attention away from what has to be a policy-driven, substantive debate.

Washington failed us on this issue again today, and Arizonans have had enough. The White House and Congress need to start developing a better approach to border security and immigration reform, working with us instead of against us. Our law enforcement and communities are at risk right now — this is a time for solutions, not new obstacles.

And last but not least, Republican Governor Jan Brewer’s response:

PHOENIX – “Today I was notified that the federal government has filed a lawsuit against the State of Arizona. It is wrong that our own federal government is suing the people of Arizona for helping to enforce federal immigration law. As a direct result of failed and inconsistent federal enforcement, Arizona is under attack from violent Mexican drug and immigrant smuggling cartels. Now, Arizona is under attack in federal court from President Obama and his Department of Justice. Today’s filing is nothing more than a massive waste of taxpayer funds. These funds could be better used against the violent Mexican cartels than the people of Arizona.

“The truth is the Arizona law is both reasonable and constitutional. It mirrors substantially what has been federal law in the United States for many decades. Arizona’s law is designed to complement, not supplant, enforcement of federal immigration laws. Despite the Department of Justice’s claims in paragraph 62 of today’s lawsuit, Arizona is not trying ‘to establish its own immigration policy’ or ‘directly regulate the immigration status of aliens.’ Arizona Revised Statutes § 11-1051(E) states that the federal government, along with local law enforcement officers authorized by the federal government, can only determine an alien’s immigration status. Subsection (L) of that same section goes on to state that the law ‘shall be implemented in a manner consistent with federal laws regulating immigration.’

“The irony is that President Obama’s Administration has chosen to sue Arizona for helping to enforce federal immigration law and not sue local governments that have adopted a patchwork of ‘sanctuary’ policies that directly violate federal law. These patchwork local ‘sanctuary’ policies instruct the police not to cooperate with federal immigration officials.

“The best thing government can do is to create a stable, predictable environment, governed by an easily understood set of rules or laws. We do not need to make this more complicated than it already is. We must first and foremost create a secure border. Enhanced trade, economic opportunity and freedom will surely follow.

“I am pleased that President Obama and the Department of Justice did not pursue the baseless claims of illegal racial profiling in the lawsuit. When signing S.B. 1070, I said, ‘My signature today represents my steadfast support for enforcing the law — both against illegal immigration AND against racial profiling.’ Arizona’s law expressly prohibits unconstitutional racial profiling. However, words are not enough. For this reason, I ordered the Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training Board (AZPOST) to develop training on the new law for Arizona’s police officers. AZPOST has completed the training course and has published it for the all world to see at www.azpost.state.az.us/SB1070infocenter.htm . AZPOST has done its job professionally and served Arizona well.

“I will not stop fighting to protect the citizens of Arizona, and to defend Arizonans in federal court. I have set up a legal defense fund to pay the substantial legal fees that Arizona has been, and will be, forced to incur as a result of all of these lawsuits. Contributions to the Border Security and Immigration Defense Fund can be made at www.keepazsafe.com . My legal team will not hesitate to assert the rights of the State of Arizona in this matter. Arizona will ultimately prevail against the lawsuits – including this latest assault by the Obama Administration. Our laws will be found to be constitutional – because that is exactly what they are.”

DRJ at Patterico’s breaks down what’s to come in the next few weeks:

To obtain a preliminary injunction, the federal government must meet each part of a four prong test: (1) a substantial likelihood of success on the merits; (2) a substantial threat that failure to grant the injunction will result in irreparable injury; (3) that the threatened injury outweighs any damage that the injunction may cause the opposing party; and (4) that the injunction will not disserve the public interest. Just as Judge Feldman did in blocking Obama’s moratorium on offshore drilling, the Court in this Arizona case will balance the injury on the parties and consider the impact the injunction will have on “the public interest.”

Professor Jacobson at Legal Insurrection says the case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Neil V. Wake. Because the Obama Administration is seeking a preliminary injunction, Judge Wake will give us an early view of his stand on this case when he rules on whether there is a “substantial likelihood” the Obama Administration will prevail on the merits.

Gird your loins.

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