July 6th, 2010
02:50 PM ET
12 years ago

Justice Department challenges Arizona immigration law

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/07/06/art.holder.doj.gi.jpg caption ="The Justice Department has filed a lawsuit challenging a contentious Arizona immigration law."]

Washington (CNN) - The Justice Department Tuesday filed a lawsuit challenging a tough new Arizona immigration law.

The law, which is scheduled to take effect at the end of July, requires immigrants to carry their alien registration documents at all times and allows police to question the residency status of people in the course of enforcing another law. It also targets businesses that hire illegal immigrant laborers or knowingly transports them.

President Barack Obama said in a speech July 1 that the measure has "fanned the flames of an already contentious debate." Among other things, it puts pressure on police officers to enforce rules that are "unenforceable" while making communities less safe - in part, by making people more reluctant to report crimes, he said.

It also has "the potential of violating the rights of innocent American citizens and legal residents, making them subject to possible stops or questioning because of what they look like or how they sound."

Before the government's filing, Arizona's two senators, both Republicans, called the Obama administration move "far too premature."

"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," Sens. Jon Kyl and John McCain said in a statement.

Democratic Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick called the suit a "sideshow" in a statement released before it was officially filed.

"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," she said.

Arizona's Republican governor, Jan Brewer, has accused the Obama administration of failing to secure the border with Mexico, thereby forcing her state to act on its own.

"Do your job. Secure the border," Brewer said of the president in a July 1 speech to a Republican group. She pledged to "defend this law against every assault, including attacks by the Obama administration."

Obama renewed his push for comprehensive immigration reform last week, calling for bipartisan cooperation on an issue reflecting deep social and political divisions.

Seeking an elusive middle ground on the subject, the president highlighted the importance of immigrants to American history and progress while acknowledging the fear and frustration many feel with a system that he said seems "fundamentally broken."

He asserted that the majority of Americans are ready to embrace reform legislation that would help resolve the status of an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants.

In his July 1 speech, Obama warned that rounding up everyone in the country who has entered illegally would be both "logistically impossible" and "tear at the fabric of the nation." At the same time, the president indicated it would be wrong to offer blanket amnesty for people who came into the United States unlawfully.

Despite Obama's call for bipartisan immigration reform, several senior Democratic sources said Thursday that they see virtually no chance of Congress taking up such a measure before November's midterm elections.

A CNN/Opinion Research Corp. national poll conducted in late May indicated that public support for beefing up security along the U.S. border with Mexico had grown significantly.

According to the survey, nearly nine out of 10 Americans want to increase U.S. law enforcement along the border with Mexico.

Eight in 10 questioned also supported a program that would allow illegal immigrants already in the United States to stay here and apply for legal residency, provided they had a job and paid back taxes.

But only 38 percent say that program should be a higher priority than border security and other get-tough proposals. Six in 10 said border security was the higher priority.

- CNN's Terry Frieden and Bill Mears contributed to this report

Filed under: Immigration
soundoff (75 Responses)
  1. NAM VET

    Gee I guess the fact that I have to carry ID as a born and bred
    citizen for all my life is OK but not for others. How dumb is that?

    July 6, 2010 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  2. JP

    If Holder did his job Brewer would not have to. I am sure far fewer people would support amnesty if they knew the cost of adding 11 million illegals to Obamacare. How much longer will real Americans have to work to support the illegals if Obama makes them citizens so they vote for him.

    July 6, 2010 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  3. Rick McDaniel

    The Justice Department is totally perverted and corrupt.

    July 6, 2010 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  4. Joe

    Obumbo and his Administration are the crookedest in the history of our nation! Allowing criminals to roam free and invade our country, then stops us from defending ourselves. He is racially bias towards whites, as evident by allowing the Black Panthers to intimidate voters and then walk free, no punishment! Odumbo has messed up everything he has touched! He need to be impeached ASAP!

    July 6, 2010 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  5. Chipster

    Brewer said that she had no idea how this law was going to be enforced...that's leadership that I wouldn't bank on. It's unfair to law enforcement agencies to expect them to enforce a law that is so vague and so broad that they don't know what to do with it. It was passed to score political points with anti-immigrant voters. That's all it is. It allows officials to stop people who simply look suspicious, even without evidence of illegal activity – well, what exactly does that look like? It's an invitation to a constitutional challenge for civil rights violations.

    Brewer, enforce the laws you have in your State! Start arresting employers who hire illegal immigrants! Why aren't you doing that? Huh? Can't hear you? Oh, you really don't want to do that, do you? Political clap-trap and nonsense!

    July 6, 2010 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  6. Dean

    Obama, you don't need to round up every illegal and ship them out of the country. Just quit giving them jobs, medicaid, social security, food stamps, free telephones and they will go home.
    I wonder how our politicians ever made it out of high school.

    July 6, 2010 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  7. Dean

    I wonder if Holder has read Arizona's law yet.

    July 6, 2010 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  8. Don Wuerl

    We all know that illegal immigration is a serious problem; its not going to get better by complaining about it, however. Many of the people who came here were most likely trying to escape an unbearable situation in their home country; but, they didn't trust their home government. Did anyone think of that as a reason for being here? I don't think so, either! Where's that bazooka?! It sounds like the Democrats got the message to take up the immigration issue; Republicans can stop their nonsense and get this done instead of playing Block Obama Politics!

    July 6, 2010 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  9. HR

    Another Obama attempt to force amnesty down America's throat – 57% ofr all Americans think Arizona's law is fair and just – why should illegals not BE IDENTIFIED AND DEPORTED – OUR CURRENT FEDERAL LAWS SAY SO – BUT OBAMA AND HIS CREW OF ACORNS ETC WANT TO LEGASLIZE THE CRIMINALS – STAND UP AMERICA AND SAY ENOUGH IS ENOUGH MR. OBAMA. Just because you can not prove your birth you want amnesty for yourself – you are as crooked as the illegals.

    July 6, 2010 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  10. Sniffit

    BTW, it remains to be seen whether claiming that the federal government is "failing to enforce" a federal law excuses a state from attempting to enact a law that would otherwise be clearly pre-empted. I'm 100% sure they hope that Roberts, Alito, Scalia and Scalia's little Thomaspuppet will go for it. However, aside from the legal arguments that make it unlikely to be the case, seeing as how once that federal authority is usurped it would be near impossible to put back properly and would create all sorts of problems if, for example, border states all around the country decided to have umpteen different immigration enforcement laws...the fact remains that the entire argument is clearly disingenuous in light of the federal government's failure to do anything about it for decades, the GOP's constant efforts to thwart any real, pragmatic reform efforts and the fact that the issue clearly came up because they needed a hot-button for the mid-term elections.

    July 6, 2010 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  11. tom

    So the Federal Government is challenging a law that mirror's federal law clarifying that illegals are illegal and gives power to street cops to investigate if sed crime has been commited??? I do not find this to be a good use of my tax dollars or people's time. Maybe if barack spent half as much time keeping promises as he spends making them, he might actually fulfill a campaign promise and AZ would not have the problems they have with illegals.

    July 6, 2010 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  12. rita

    The Arizona Law has exposed the ineptitude of the federal government and all of the executive administrations who have headed it for 50 years. When the federal government loses this case, and it will, it will be time for the federal government to walk away from any pretentious charade of protecting the border states and all states from illegal immigration. The burden should immediately be shifted to the states. There are no federal officers in every state to deal with this problem. There are however, thousands of state police within each individual state with the ability and results oriented purposefulness to undo this national security nightmare that successive administrations saw fit to ignore.

    July 6, 2010 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  13. Chad from Tampa

    So the US Gov't is suing Arizona for enforcing a law that the US Gov't invented? What side is Obama on?

    July 6, 2010 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  14. D

    After seeing the "Justice" dept. challenging Arizonias immigration law, I have to say.......this is the first time in my "whole" life of 64 years I am ashamed of my Country. !!!
    Thank you Mr. Obama !!!! ( I can't even bring myself to call him president)

    July 6, 2010 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  15. Capt. Snarky

    "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," Sens. Jon Kyl and John McCain said in a statement.


    Yes, this American wonders just where the Obama admistrations' intentions lie. Seems to me that the Constitution mandates that the President is the "chief law enforcement officer". I can't understand why he refuses to enforce our laws, yet sues those that do.....???????

    Anybody from the left?????????

    July 6, 2010 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  16. Grrr-Awful-O

    That sound you hear is the last dregs of this administration circling the drain...

    July 6, 2010 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  17. bill

    this stinks of corruption...these politicians can`t possibly think that letting illegal aliens stay in this country is good for america, so all i can figure is that the people who profit from the ILLEGAL aliens have bought and paid for our politicians. research your candidates beliefs this election cycle and PLEASE i implore you to vote for only candidates that believe we HAVE to get rid of these criminals !!!

    don`t let "them" tell you it is wrong ,racist or hateful to enforce our laws!!! we do not change our laws to suit the criminals !!! laws serve a useful purpose ,especially our immigration laws,we can`t just let large amounts of immigrants swarm our country.common sense
    seems to elude alot of americans when they are made to feel guilty.

    they have a country that needs alot of hard work but did americans run to another country when things got tough ? NO we
    kicked butt and changed it !!! im sorry but that is the only solution. force these people to go home and either come here legally or
    go home and change their country !!! we americans know you can`t run from your problems.

    July 6, 2010 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  18. GI Joe

    Before the government's filing, Arizona's two senators, both Republicans, called the Obama administration move "far too premature."

    Yet they just yell NO to reform - following the nationally elected McConnell of KY off the cliff (I didn't vote for McTurtleface, but he dictates to ALL REPUBLICANS IN SENATE AND HOUSE).

    July 6, 2010 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  19. Honest131

    11 million illegals of latino decent. 52 million citizens of latino decent. 1 in 6 latinos in the country are illegal.

    We've waived habeus corpus, we've locked up Japanse Americans and German Americans. Citizens. Not illegals. We've grabbed people from other countries and waterboarded them among other things. While we denied we had them.

    Why is this so hard for everyone to understand. We want immigrants. They make us great. We dont want undocumented people whatever their circumstances. Sorry. Thats the way it is.

    And for the people who are citizens and get stopped? I get stopped at a DUI checkpoint because I'm driving. I get flagged for audits by the IRS becuse of my tax profile. You get stopped because a bunch of people who look like you broke the law. I'm sorry.

    July 6, 2010 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  20. db

    See related article, "Recent polls: Majority support Arizona law". The Obama administration couldn't be more out of touch with the American majority if they we're headquartered on Mars.

    July 6, 2010 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  21. Greg Pottstown PA

    All illegals should be sent home.

    Once again the Obama admin is opposed to what the people want.

    Can one of you libs with your infinite wisdom tell me where the Constitution states that Immigration is a power of the fed only? Better yet can you tell me where it has the word immigration at all?

    July 6, 2010 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  22. Heaven Help US

    Let me get this straight:

    Those who flout the law are fine.
    Enforce it and you face a lawsuit.


    July 6, 2010 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  23. Not Republican

    Right or wrong, too tough or not too tough... we'll see.

    One thing that isn't questionable, is that the interests of biggots are best served in the Republican party.

    Biggots unite – go tea baggers!

    July 6, 2010 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  24. demo

    I have grown tired of being a democrat and trying to defend most of the policies of this administration and have come to the conclusion that they are the most incompetent, self-serving, idiotic, and arrogant individuals to ever represent the AMERICAN public. This act may in fact be their waterloo. How dispicable and arrogant can you be to file a lawsuit against a state for doing what they are unwilling to do. Especially when the law is written almost verbatim as the FEDERAL law. I am totally disgusted with these idiotic manuveurs to gain favor with criminals. This is almost as bad as inviting the unions into the negotiations to bail out the auto makers. Let's open the door and let the fox into the henhouse.

    July 6, 2010 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  25. Biased

    How much does this justice dept. really care about upholding the law? They bring suit against Arizona because Holder won't enforce the immigration laws already on the books and now seemingly show they don't want Arizona to either, and then they drop charges and cover up a perfectly obvious case of voter intimidation by certain Black Panthers and dismiss a case they already won. I don't think these people demonstrate they even know the laws of the land or even care to. But as Rahm said – never let a good crisis go to waste so stop those in Arizona from protecting themselves while Holder and Obama promote amnesty to ensure Hispanic voter support in the upcoming elections. And democrats promised no politics as usual – they were right I guess in that they are worse!

    July 6, 2010 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
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