DOJ sues AZ over immigration law

Posted by: ST on July 6, 2010 at 6:26 pm

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 . 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 . 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.

RSS feed for comments on this post.


  • Rhymes With Right trackbacked with Then EMPT, Damn It!...
  • 16 Responses to “DOJ sues AZ over immigration law”


    1. everyone call your elected representatives. tell them you don’t want them to sue arizona but to join in with arizona and fight this colonization of the united states. this country belongs to the people of the united states not eric holder.

    2. PE says:

      “I’ve always been crazy but its kept me from going insane.” To me, that’s always been fine as a matter of personal philosophy. Not so hot as a fundamental strategy of a republic, at least one that isn’t run by a pack of rat brained s o bs.

    3. Absolute madness.

      The truth is that Obama and those who oppose Arizona’s S.B. 1070 are in favor of illegal immigration and just don’t want to admit it.

      This is easily proven by asking anyone who is against S.B. 1070 on “civil rights” grounds to write a law themselves which achieve the same thing while preserving the civil liberties they so claim to cherish.

      Of course, they never do.

    4. Mwalimu Daudi says:

      I am not a fan of the Arizona law, but not because of the “racist” falsehood being promoted by the media.

      On the question of illegal aliens the Federal government is failing to do its job (has been for decades), but that should not be an excuse for states to try to do this themselves. It is always bad news when one level or branch of government tries to usurp the powers that are Constitutionally reserved for another. Immigration is primarily (but not exclusively) a Federal responsibility, and IMO both Obama and Bush should be behind bars for obstructing enforcement the way they have.

      Interestingly, most of the legal commentary that I have heard says that because of the very narrow way this Federal lawsuit has been constructed it will probably flop, unless the Obama administration has already lined up a tame judge who will automatically rule in their favor regardles of the merits of the case. Which is exactly what I predict will happen.

      Incidentally, my wife (a legal immigrant) has been required to carry proof with her at all times of her right to legally reside in this country ever since we came here. This was told to us at every step of the process by both our lawyers and USCIS officials. The notion that legal US residents will be rounded up and deported because of the Arizona law is a crock of lefty race-baiting horses**t.

    5. Carlos says:

      “A policy that, in purpose and effect, interferes with the numerous interests the federal government must balance.” – Eric Holder

      And just whose interests would those be, Mr. Holder? Calderon’s, maybe? Potential jackass voters this fall and in 2012, maybe? Why don’t you spell out exactly whose interests they are, so we can see just how patriotic you are in suing a state that wishes to do what the federal government refuses to do and should be held liable for.

      I hope the judge finds in favor of the defendants and has you and your boss arrested for obstruction of justice.

      Speaking of which, caught any white KKKers menacing at voting polls lately, Mr. Holder? My goodness, you must be awfully busy to think the Philadelphia farce was such a minor matter.

      BTW, Mr. Holder, next time you see your boss, kick him in the backside, then tell him that was the butt he was looking so hard for.

    6. Marshall Art says:


      Whether or not AZ is overstepping federal jurisdiction, and I don’t believe they are, what else should they do when the border they share with Mexico AND the United States is being threatened by violent people, as well as by those who don’t want to wait in line like your wife did? Just allow even more tracts of AZ land to be made off limits to it’s citizens so as to prevent their harm by drug dealers?

      As to the Constitution, it’s supposed to restrict the feds, not the states. I fully suport AZ and CA and MO to enact the immigration laws they have.

    7. MissJean says:

      I don’t see the problem. Arizona is merely contributing to our society by doing the job the Feds don’t want to do.

    8. Mwalimu Daudi says:

      Marshall Art:

      I think what you will find is that the Arizona law is entirely toothless. If Obama will not deport illegals captured under the Arizona law (he has already said he would not), what is next?

      Hold the illegals indefinitely? Some judge somewhere will shriek, “Concentration camp!”, and order them released.

      Send them back to Mexico? Mexico is in the process of becoming a failed narco-terrorist state, and Mexican authorities don’t want their illegals back any more than we want them here. Simply dumping illegals a few miles past the border will only encourage them to sneak back across, and that’s assuming the Arizona authorities don’t wind up in a Mexican prison themselves for an “illegal military invasion”.

      Use the courts to force the Feds to obey Federal immigration laws and take the illegals? Any court order must be enforced by the Justice Department, and Obama has already declared his administration above the law in this matter. This is what it means to have a tyrant as a President.

      The Feds hold all the cards (not to mention the guns) in this matter. They alone have the means of effectively removing illegals from Arizona and elsewhere in the US. Instead, they have chosen to ignore the law and fight anyone who does. For that reason Arizona will not win even if the courts rule in their favor. The fatal flaw in the Arizona law is that it is based upon the hope is that the Obama administration can be forced to obey immigration laws. That will not happen – period.

    9. Lorica says:

      Miss Jean, are you saying that Arizona is “stepping out of the shadows”?? =)) – Lorica

    10. Lorica says:

      The only problem is the Arizona law is not the 1st law that was passed by a state to force the Government to do it’s job. Wasn’t it Oklahoma?? Why is AZ being picked on, that is the real question??? – Lorica

    11. Arizona Caroline says:

      I’m from Arizona. People in non-border states who are against the immigration law have no idea what they’re talking about. This is a SERIOUS problem! Although it’s bad enough with the human smugglers and drug smugglers, did they ever stop to wonder if OTHER illegals get into the U.S. like the insane “people” who planned and executed 9/11? There are documented stories and pictures of desert sleeping spots along the illegal route that indicate some of these humans are Muslims by things they left behind. HOW do we know if they are PEACEFUL Muslims? Wouldn’t we ALL like to know? SHOULDN’T OBMAMA WANT TO KNOW???

      EVERY American has a right to HOME SECURITY. Obama’s ridiculous lack of action is just more evidence he is taking this country down the tubes. I’M SCARED TO DEATH!

    12. Mwalimu Daudi says:


      Who knows? The only thing that is 100% certain is that the Obama administration will not only fail to enforce existing Federal immigration laws, they will actively sabotage any efforts by others to defend themselves through state laws. These states will find themselves to be entirely powerless, since the courts have pretty much shredded the 10th Amendment to the Constitution.

      On January 20, 2009 we were delivered into the hands of a President who fancies himself to be a Maximum Leader, a true political Messiah accountable to no one. There are no restraints left – period.

    13. Carlos says:

      So, can Arizona contract with Alaska to house these criminal aliens, say about 300 miles north of the outpost farthest north?

      If they can, I’d bet 1) none would try to escape, even if living conditions were very good there, and 2) it would be a fairly good deterrent to others to either not get caught, go home or not come here illegally to begin with.

      If these criminals are simply breaking Arizona laws, there’s not a whole bunch the feds could do about it. ‘Course, that’s from a country boy, non-lawyer perspective.

    14. Kate says:

      MD, Just a thought about returning illegals to Mexico. It wouldn’t be such an issue if Mexican’s has abackbone and sacrificed on their part to have a safer country? Why is education considered a luxury in Mexico?

      Why do people get kidnapped by drug cartels? Why are their candidates for office being killed? One reason only….greed. The situation has intensified recently since illegal money made here in the US had been increasingly stopped by good border control policy of checking the cars going back into Mexico. This situation in dangerous in Mexico and all the border states. Even fishermen are in danger from bandits on border lake. So in MExico the rule of law means nothing. Why isn’t HOLDER taking a stand against this? The illegals are bringing all these same issues along with them to make them citizens only adds immediately to our safety and security.